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This is the second of our regular updates on research and policy that help to protect life in freshwater – both our own work and pointers to other interesting projects and results. Let us know if there’s anything we’ve missed that should have a wider audience. If you don't want to receive this anymore, simply click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. We hope you'll stay!
Donald Trump and freshwater ecology
After just a few short weeks, it’s already become rather passé to attempt to grab attention at the start of an article with the words ‘Donald Trump said……’. And you might think that Donald Trump and freshwater ecology was a particularly large stretch. But, sadly no, because on the last day of February the US President rather gleefully cancelled the Clean Water Rule which is strongly evidenced policy, based on a wide range of research, describing the importance of small headwater streams, ponds and wetlands and the need to protect them. You can see the President describing the policy as ‘Horrible’ and ‘Destructive’ here, and how much he dislikes puddles! The science details behind the Clean Water Rule are here, in the detailed review by the US EPA here, and in a peer-reviewed version of this report written by the lead EPA person here. All this is important because the development of evidence-based policy on small waters in the US was an important sign to Europeans that this was also something we should see as important. Clearly we will have to redouble our efforts. The august science journal Nature came out against the policy change in a rapid response to the Trump move on 1st March.

Restoring habitats an ‘inadequate alternative’ to protecting them properly in the first place
With much effort going into restoring freshwater ecosystems, a recent global analysis notes that restoration is generally an "inadequate alternative" to preventing damage in the first place. “Anthropogenic ecosystem disturbance and the recovery debt” was published in Nature Communications on 20th January 2017. Read more >>

River restoration: a positive result
A lot of river restoration projects have struggled to provide evidence of benefits for freshwater biodiversity so a positive result, in this case specifically for fish in a German river restoration project, is interesting. But we’ll need some more long-term evidence of success before substantially revising the comment of Laws et al. (2016) who noted pithily that “the vast majority of stream restoration projects rarely demonstrate a biodiversity recovery post-hydrogeomorphic adjustment (Palmer et al., 2014)”. Read more>>

Mapping water pollution in London’s freshwaters
It’s natural to assume that freshwaters in urban areas are mostly quite badly polluted as a result of the combined impacts of polluted urban runoff, atmospheric deposition and sewage works discharges. So it was a big surprise for us to find clean water quite widely spread in Greater London in what is, we think, the first ever survey of nutrient pollution across all freshwater habitats in a big city. Over the last few years we’ve been working with Earthwatch to develop new ‘citizen science’ water pollution testing methods and these have shown that there is far more comparatively unpolluted water in a big urban area than you might at first imagine. You just have to know where to look. E-mail us for a full copy or read abstract here >>

Threats to one of our most endangered water plants: the drawdown zone specialist liverwort, Channelled Crystalwort
Channelled Crystalwort (Riccia canaliculata) is now only known in Britain growing on the margins of ponds at Brown Moss in Shropshire. This is one of the Flagship Pond sites where Freshwater Habitats Trust is working with local partners to protect this and other highly endangered species. You can read more about the biology of the plant, and the threats it faces, here in this free to download paper.

Creating a safe operating space for wetlands in a changing climate
The idea of creating a ‘safe operating space’ for the natural world has become popular over the last few years. Now a specific wetland take on the idea has been published by a team of researchers using one of Europe’s most important wetlands as a case study - a place famous for its 3000 seasonal ponds and extensive marshes, the Coto Doñana in the south of Spain. If there is a good news part to this story it is that by reducing damaging impacts from groundwater abstraction and pollution, it may be possible to mitigate some of the effects of climate change on wetlands. Most of the rest of the news about the Coto Donana is not so good. The full text is available by email from the authors or download from ResearchGate. Read more >>

Uncommon water fleas (Cladocera) in North Lincolnshire
The report by John Bratton on the occurrence of uncommon water fleas in small ponds and pools in what might look at first sight like rather unpromising locations - intensively cultivated landscapes in North Lincolnshire - makes interesting reading. It makes one wonder if there is something special about North Lincolnshire, or is it simply that no-one is looking? The article is in Cladocera News. Read more >>

Are ponds good for bees? They might be.
Being places where lots of insects live, especially flies, ponds and their surrounds on farmlands might be good for pollinators. This suggests all sorts of attractive land management and farming possibilities and might provide a big tick in the ‘ecosystem services’ box. And although bees don’t ever live in water, the drier land around the ponds might be good for them too. A new report from Sweden is one of the first into print investigating this issue in detail. Read more >>

Are tunnels under roads used by Great Crested Newts?
There’s been quite a lot of tunneling under roads to prevent amphibian breeding ponds being isolated from their terrestrial habitats nearby. But very little is known about whether these tunnels are working. Now a new study by Froglife, The University of Hull and The Open University on Britain’s (probably Europe’s) biggest great crested newt population has provided the first data on tunnel use. It shows that, whilst newts do go through tunnels, they may not do so enough to make a difference. Perhaps the most important conclusion from the paper is that “the very low adult crossing rates by newts in spring raises fundamental questions about how…..mitigation schemes should be implemented for newts. Road tunnels may maintain landscape connectivity through facilitating autumn connectivity, but whether or not it supports spring migration to breeding sites where a road separates terrestrial and aquatic habitat remains unclear." Clearly this is an important piece of work in helping us to protect one of our most exciting freshwater animals. Read more >>

Policy Positions
Freshwater Habitats Trust has published position statements on a range of policy issues, and plans to publish more in the future. Read more >>

Can you suggest any freshwater research and policy stories to include in the next newsletter? Email them to Becca, our Comms Officer

Want to hear more about our work and the things we care about? Join the mailing lists for our regular newsletter Ripples, and the People, Ponds & Water newsletter for updates on our PondNet, Flagship Ponds and Clean Water for Wildlife projects.
At Freshwater Habitats Trust, our research and policy work is core to who we are.

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