How is climate change affecting aquatic macroinvertebrate biodiversity in Ireland?

Raised of $4,000 Goal
Ended on 11/01/21
Campaign Ended
  • $76
  • 2%
  • Finished
    on 11/01/21

About This Project

I'm studying the small invertebrates in streams, rivers and lakes in the centre of Ireland to understand their makeup, distribution and stressors. As the number of adverse climate events increase and mean annual temperatures change, I want to see how communities of invertebrates change - which are resilient and which are not, how some can form indicators of resilience or change as well as general water quality for recreational use by local people. The approach will use eDNA methods.

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What is the context of this research?

Aquatic macroinvertebrates are commonly used as indicators of the biological condition of streams, rivers , and lakes. They are reliable indicators because they spend all or most of their lives in water, are easy to collect and differ in their tolerance to pollution. Macroinvertebrates respond to human disturbance in fairly predictable ways, are relatively easy to identify in the field or laboratory, and many often live for more than a year and, unlike fish, have limited mobility. Since they cannot escape pollution, macroinvertebrates have the capacity to integrate the effects of the stressors (pollution, climate, competition with invasive species) to which they are exposed, in combination and over time.

What is the significance of this project?

As climate change effects in terms of increasing adverse climate events occur e.g. flooding, temperature fluctuation (in 2021 thus far, temperatures of >30'C were experienced in the center of Ireland), and this will change the make-up of the biodiversity in streams, lakes, and rivers. However, since the current situation is only known in a low resolution, it is difficult to say how things will change unless a finer-grained picture is produced.

What are the goals of the project?

The first stage of this project (starting Winter 2021/2022) will be to establish the state of the environment as it is now and to review all previous research. This will involve characterizing the invertebrate communities in the center of Ireland where the current stressors are increasing before the pre-test parameters degrade any further. I will travel to stations around selected sub-catchments based on previous external assessments (e.g. Irish EPA). Biotic samples will be taken to assess water quality

Sediment samples will be taken and eDNA extraction and amplification conducted to determine organismal makeup at present, and at depth, historically. Trends based on changes will be elucidated and compared with water quality.


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This is a stand-alone project to be funded only by

The approach involves the purchase of a DNA sequencer, ancillary equipment and consumables that can be used in the field. My institution will make available PCR equipment and my lab to make the project viable to produce community profiles of the streams, rivers and lakes of County Westmeath (centre of Ireland).

Endorsed by

I am really excited about this project. I think it will provide great interest and knowledge into this field. The director is a wondeful election for this kind of projects.

Project Timeline

The expected research timeline will be 2.5 years:

I will start in the winter of 2021/2022 to conduct the literature review/baseline report/review paper written, October 2021 - March 2022

I will make a selection of sub-catchments based on EPA data - November 2021

The initial visit of sites (n=20) and samples will be taken and analyzed twice in 2022 and 2023.

Sep 17, 2021

Project Launched

Sep 30, 2021

WP1 Launch of the project

Nov 26, 2021

WP3 Travel to selected sub-catchments, initial assessments, collection of samples

Jan 31, 2022

WP2 Baseline study, literature review

Mar 25, 2022

WP4 Analysis of eDNA

Meet the Team

Tom McCloughlin
Tom McCloughlin
Assistant Prof., Dr.


Dublin City University Water Institute
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Tom McCloughlin

I am passionate about science, nature, ecology and protecting it. I want to take action to prevent further destruction and loss of health and life to both consumers and the living things in the sea, and he believes that this is the greatest defense issue of all nations into the future. Although I work as an academic in a university, I keep himself rooted among the people on the ground, those who live and work on the coast. I am involved in my career as a marine biologists teaching both students and local people about the natural or ecological wealth on their doorstep. I constantly remind people that Ireland is an island and as such vulnerable to any change in the oceans.

Lab Notes

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Project Backers

  • 5Backers
  • 2%Funded
  • $76Total Donations
  • $15.20Average Donation
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