Workshop held at the Botany Lecture Theatre on Overcoming Barriers to Fen Restoration

Workshop held at the Botany Lecture Theatre on Overcoming Barriers to Fen Restoration

On October 25th, a workshop on “Overcoming Barriers to Fen Restoration” took place at Trinity College Dublin’s Botany Department. The event was organised by Dr Sate Ahmad and Adam Bates, as part of the IRC-funded DIVE2STORE project, to offer a collaborative space for individuals involved with all facets of peatland-related work. The workshop discussed the diversity of peatland ecosystems in Ireland with a focus on fens (groundwater-fed peatlands), the pros and cons of rewetting peatlands, and how restoration efforts should consider social aspects along with an acknowledgement of gaps in technical knowhows. Highlighted talks on these topics include those of Prof. Gerald Jurasinski (University of Greifswald, Germany) and Dr Shane Regan (National Parks and Wildlife Service) discussing The Power of Long-term Monitoring to Understand the Climate Effect of Peatland Rewetting, and EU Just Transition Wetlands Restoration Project – Fen Management, respectively. The workshop also focused on the societal aspects of fen restoration, how people interact with these landscapes and the significance they hold for the locals neighbouring these areas. To cover these points, Dr Mícheál Callaghan from the Community Wetlands Forum (CWF) presented the Lessons and Experiences of the CWF and its members. All talks were followed by productive discussions and debates on potential restoration and monitoring solutions integrating responsible management schemes to address potential negative externalities, as well as setting restoration goals based on peatland type (eg. climate mitigation vs. biodiversity). The importance of the involvement of local communities in restoration and monitoring efforts was highlighted along with the need for providing incentives for fen restoration. Attendees included members of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Community Wetlands Forum, Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly, Bord na Móna, BEC Consultants, Green Restoration Ireland, Ó Ceallaigh Ecology, FarmPEAT Project, iCRAG, University of Galway, University College Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin (Departments of Botany, Geography, Zoology, and Environmental Engineering).


Dr Richard Nair awarded SFI-Royal Society University research fellowship

Dr Richard Nair awarded SFI-Royal Society University research fellowship

RODEO: Root Dynamics for Ecosystem Observation is a SFI-Royal Society University research fellowship awarded to Dr Richard Nair. RODEO is an 8-year project where Richard and the interdisciplinary RODEO team will build on his previous work building instruments and AI methods to understand root phenology (seasonal cycles) and use this to understand the links between root and shoot phenology. Phenology is important because it affects how much CO2 is taken up by vegetation and thus how plant life can buffer climate change. But most phenology information is only above ground, so if the changing environment causes differences in root and leaf activity, we cannot understand this from above-ground observations only leading to uncertainty in future predictions. RODEO will allow the team to study the links between whole plant phenology and CO2 uptake and release under real field conditions, and help improve forecasts, adaptions, and management of climate change.

 

RootCheck: Image-Based Root Health Assessment Tools for Sustainable Agriculture

RootCheck is a SFI-funded National Challenge Fund project, led by Dr Richard Nair with co-PI Dr Saoirse Tracy at University College Dublin. Health and physiological syndromes can affect roots and leaves differently, but there are no tools to help assess root health under field conditions. Generally, roots are much more difficult to measure than leaves, but root health status may not be visible above-ground. RootCheck will develop new tools for rapid and non-destructive in-field assessment of root health status using a combination of cheap sensors and artificial intelligence methods. RootCheck will build an interdisciplinary team to approach this challenge with an end-user focus. The output of RootCheck will help ensure data parameterized agricultural systems, helping ensure long-term agricultural sustainability and productivity in uncertain future conditions.


Adam Bates attends the Power to the Peatlands conference, Antwerp, Belgium

Adam Bates attends the Power to the Peatlands conference, Antwerp, Belgium

On the 19-21 September, lab member Adam, a Research Assistant to the Dive2Store project, attended the Power to the Peatlands conference, held at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Presenting a poster on Dive2Store’s recent fieldwork, Adam was able to discuss the ongoing study with peat experts from across Europe and beyond.

Rewetting, restoration, and conservation of peatlands are currently at the forefront of environmental concern in Ireland and Europe, with significant implications for climate goals and policy, relating to carbon stores, emissions, and mitigation.


Siobhán McDonald captures landscapes at tipping points - The Boglands Are Breathing exhibition

'Siobhan McDonald communicate complex science in a visual way — reaching out to people with their heartstrings’

Siobhán’s latest exhibition – ‘The Boglands Are Breathing’ blends scientific and creative processes to make sculptures, videos, works on paper, paintings and sound pieces. The exhibition gathered numerous collaborators, bringing together scientists, conservators, musicians, philosophers, perfumers and celestial phenomena, all of whom collectively take part in the evolution of the work. Our shared boglands are positioned as the protagonists of an unseen drama, and this work makes visible the collective memory that is held in the rich repository that exists within the thin layer between the soil and the rocks.  An installation entitled ‘A library of lost smells,’ consisting of plant species, gathered from numerous bog sites across Ireland acts as a slow distillation of deep time created from plants and mineral-rich bog waters, that explores links between smell & memory. The installation holds an assortment of hand-blown glass bottles containing scents from eight of the most important notes. Some of the vessels contain scent-infused remnants that were buried deep in a bog for over 20 years alluding to the low oxygen levels and unusual smells derived from the preservation conditions.

Find out more about Siobhán’s exhibition, which took place at Model Arts Centre in Sligo, from the Irish Times article.

Click below to see the short documentary on the exhibition.


Second year of the monitoring program at Trinity College Botanic Garden

Trinity College Botanic Garden successfully run the second year of its long-term monitoring program

Trinity College Botanic Garden successfully run the second year of its long-term monitoring program. From the 26th to the 30th of June visiting researcher Midori Yajima, Dr Christos Chondrogiannis and research assistant Orla Banting daily measured trees’ physiological parameters in the garden, to add to the growing dataset to be used to assess tree responses to climate change in the long run. Lab analyses of trees’ ability to intercept particulate pollution are also underway, thanks to the collaboration with the iCRAG lab, and herbarium specimens are in the making for the year 2023, to be hosted in Trinity College Herbarium for future research questions. After the first year of testing the monitoring is growing into being a well-established project, attracting the interest from realities within and outside College.

Following the ethics of open science, all the resources for the monitoring have been published online in an accessible way, including protocols on the platform protocols.io, accessible through https://dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.dm6gpjdedgzp/v1data management in the database DMP online, and datasets in the Dryad database, accessible through https://datadryad.org/stash/dataset/doi:10.5061/dryad.b8gtht7h7, and will be regularly updated.


Antonietta Knetge Attends Specialised Training at University Claude Bernard

Antonietta Knetge Attends Specialised Training at University Claude Bernard

A member of our lab, PhD researcher Antonietta Knetge, has recently returned from two weeks of training with Prof. Bernard Gomez at the University Claude Bernard 1 in Lyon, France. 

From the training, she learned cuticle preparation techniques on Cretaceous fossil material. The training covered: the extraction of plant material from water-soluble sediment, sorting of dried plant material by taxa, chemical preparation, and dissection of foliar cuticle for light microscopy and SEM analysis. 

All materials prepared were from Cretaceous localities in France with a principal focus on gymnosperms and particularly the conifer Frenelopsis, to determine its habit and ecology.


The 33rd Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland

The 33rd Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland

The 33rd Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland, Environ Researchers Colloquium took place from 3 – 5 April 2023. The focus of the conference was ‘Evidence and Plans Towards a Transitions to a Sustainable Future’. Over 200 researchers attended, with a diverse suite of talks and workshops featured over the few days. The conference was kicked off with workshops in sustainability careers, career development and a trip to Glenveagh National Park. The jam packed schedule of presentations was kicked off by plenary speaker Prof Rick Relyea who spoke on ‘Understanding, predicting, and mitigating human impacts for a sustainable future’. There were a large number of focused groups of presentations on topics such sensor technologies, outreach and public engagement, education, policy, marine, climate in balance, wetlands and energy solutions to name a few.
Katie O’Dea of the Plant Climate Lab presented a poster on how the TERRAFORM weathering experiments will contribute to climate sciences, particularly the application of silicate weathering as a negative emissions technology (NET).


Environmental Monitoring Program at Trinity College Botanic Garden

Environmental Monitoring Program at Trinity College Botanic Garden

It’s been a year since Trinity College Botanic Garden laid the foundation of its first long-term (>30 years) environmental monitoring program, as part of its ten-year renovation strategy. The monitoring centres around the assessment of i) key physiological performances and ii) particulate pollution interception in some of the trees held at the garden – selected for their botanical, ecological, and cultural value – to address gaps in climate change and urban green research. The program ranges from using yearly research-level to student-gathered data, and a big part of the past year of work consisted in ensuring best practices in terms of FAIR principles and making online-available data management plans, protocols, and data. Future research developments were also taken into account with the production of vouchered herbarium specimens from the trees, to be used as a historical archive and a pedagogical tool. As the garden is getting closer to its second year of monitoring, a dedicated website section and links to tree trails on the ground are also under development, to couple the monitoring itself with community engagement on plant science and climate change.


The 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting - Belfast 2023

The 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting

The 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting (IGRM) took place from 3 – 5 March 2023. The event was hosted at the Ulster Museum at the Botanic Gardens in Belfast. Over 150 individuals attended the conference. Keynote talks were featured by Professor Andy Gale who discussed the reconstruction of a Cretaceous greenhouse world and Professor Adrian Jones who discussed his work on diamonds and the carbon cycle.   

Terraform’s master’s student, Ms. Bea Jackson gave a presentation on her work on estimating Devonian paleo-atmospheric COconcentrations using fossil plant traits. Team members, Dr William J. Matthaeus, Dr Christos Chondrogiannis, Ms Antonietta Knetge and Ms Catarina Barbosa also attended to present a joint team poster on how the Terraform project will employ modern trait ecology to expand the horizons of paleo-botany and further uncover the science behind biogeochemical cycles in deep time.  

The programme for the 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting is available here.  


The 12th annual TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium

The 12th annual TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium

The 12th annual TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium took place from 2-3 March 2023. The two-day symposium gives post-graduate students within the departments of Botany and Zoology the opportunity to showcase their work. It’s an excellent opportunity for staff and students from the TCD School of Natural Sciences to engage with the varied array of research that takes place within the two departments.  

 22 post-graduates from across the two departments presented their research projects. The topics spanned from natural capital accounting to visual processing in animals, heatwave effects on parasites to the understanding of the role of urban wild spaces in maintaining mental health. Ms. Bea Jackson of the Plant-Climate lab was an organizer of the event. Bea also presented her work on estimating Devonian paleo-atmospheric COconcentrations using fossil plant traits. Ms. Antonietta Knetge gave a talk on the use of traits to uncover abiotic stress in Mesozoic flora. Congratulations to Mr. Ian Clancy of the Botany Department for winning the overall best talk for his presentation on understanding the carbon sequestering potential of Irish grasslands.  

We were delighted to host two excellent keynote speakers for the event. Dr Sandy Hetherington, a paleo-botanist, travelled from the University of Edinburgh to give an engaging talk on the origins of plant complexity. Dr Aidan O’Hanlon, an entomologist at Dublin’s Natural History Museum, gave an excellent presentation on the museum itself as well as its collections and how they can be utilized in biodiversity research. 

The book of abstracts for the 12th TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium can be found here.