In 2012 the NVD was analysed and those areas where gaps occur in our vegetation knowledge were identified. The National Biodiversity Data Centre recognises the potential of the academic sector to fill gaps in our existing vegetation knowledge, and has begun a coordinated approach to encourage M.Sc. and Ph.D. level research to contribute to filling these gaps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACURRENT RESEARCH:

Ph.D project:

2013-2016: The development of an aquatic vegetation classification system and monitoring protocol for Irish rivers to support biodiversity reporting requirements and conservation planning.

Researcher: Lynda Weekes

Supervisor: Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn; Mentor: Dr Úna FitzPatrick

Funding: Irish Research Council’s Employment-based Post-graduate Programme

University: School of Biology and Environmental Science, UCD

The NVD will form the core building blocks for a future National Vegetation Classification System, however, there is insufficient data for certain vegetation types to construct a national vegetation classification system at present, including river vegetation. This project will develop a phytosociological vegetation classification system for Irish rivers by gathering and analysing new data. This is essential for setting site-specific conservation objectives and developing a national conservation strategy for river habitats. High conservation value vegetation communities or species (biodiversity indicators) will also be identified and methods proposed to assess their conservation status. This will enable the full implementation of conservation measures through the EU Habitats Directive, EU Water Framework Directive and other means.

KEY UPDATES:

2013

A River Macrophyte Database (RMD) was collated and contains 2000+ river vegetation plots from both the Republic and Northern Ireland. This will form the basis for the River Vegetation Classification System, analysis of the RMD is ongoing

2014

Preliminary analysis of a subset of the RMD consisting of small streams and headwaters was carried out in 2014, the publication can be downloaded here bae201421

Field survey of high status rivers (EPA’s Q5 water quality value) country-wide was carried out to gather data on reference site vegetation communities. Data analysis ongoing

2015

Field survey work to be carried out in summer months