Intern Alyx second blog describing what she has been up to over the last few months
Hi, Alyx back again! A whole 3 months have now passed since I started here at GFT and I am half way through my internship. During which I have had the opportunity to help with; carrying out electrofishing and kick sampling surveys, invasive non-native species control, checking on habitat restoration work and identifying freshwater invertebrates. I have also had the opportunity to meet up with Emma Harper MSP and discuss the local issues facing Dumfries and Galloway’s freshwaters and demonstrate both electrofishing and invertebrate sampling.
Electrofishing has been the main focus of work as it was prime time for carrying out these surveys which has enabled me to put my training to use and develop key practical skills. Many of these surveys collected baseline data for the early stages of proposed windfarm developments and many also required kick samples to be taken to monitor the aquatic invertebrates. Invertebrates are a key indicator species reflecting the health of a water course. Baseline studies collect important data about the presence and absence of species and also builds ground for future monitoring. Not only have I been able to further develop practical field skills but I have also been able to explore even more of this beautiful country. While electrofishing was the main priority this summer, I have been involved with other projects including netting the Water of Fleet as a part of the Marine Scotland Science’s national adult salmon sampling project. Although we didn’t find any adult salmon we caught a fair amount of sea trout!
Japanese knotweed is one of the main invasive non-native plants posing a biodiversity threat in Dumfries and Galloway, which GFT are tackling. I have been able to learn the importance of spraying and stem injecting and why simply chopping it down can cause more of a problem due to its ability to spread using rhizomes and from pieces of vegetation. Because of this total eradication is near impossible but controlling it is still crucial to lower the rate of spread and to prevent further damage to the ecosystem. The particular patch we sprayed was on the coast near Stranraer which had it been cut would get washed away and spread widely. As I have previously mentioned I was also involved in carrying out detection surveys for the invasive North American signal crayfish across the Dee catchment to which there were no new findings!
On the odd rainy day I was able to go out to restoration sites where over 2,000 trees were planted by GFT previously and assess their survival rate. It was good to see most were alive and thriving! Furthermore, I have been able to keep sorting through the invertebrate samples collected and improve my aquatic invertebrate identification skills. While electrofishing may be finished there will be plenty of samples to go through during the rest of my time here. I will also be able to get more involved with other projects going on at GFT including water quality monitoring and habitat restoration projects.
I had a wonderful opportunity to go to Ecuador for October which was not part of the internship. While in Ecuador I explored new cultures, researched native insects (mainly moths) and even dabbling in sheep farming! I am now back, restarted the internship and ready to bring my experiences from Ecuador and apply them here while I explore a whole new side of work focused on learning, different surveying methods and project planning.
I am so thankful for my internship position here at the Galloway Fisheries Trust, funded by the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership and the Hollywood Trust and so I would like to express my deepest gratitude to them and make the most of the time I have left here.