FIRE lab goes international – Attending a workshop on ecosystem services in Brazil.

Happy Friday readers! This week’s blog post describes a workshop that I (James White) recently attended in Brazil.

After joining the FIRE lab team in August, I have been hoping to undertake a stronger, inter-disciplinary approach to my studies. Given that my research background has entailed examining ecological processes within river environments (see here), one subject area that I have been keen to explore is the services that aquatic ecosystems provide to society. Fortuitously, soon after I started my position at Swansea University, I saw an advertisement for early career researchers to apply for a workshop on aquatic ecosystem services in temperate and sub-tropical environments. I found out in November that I was successful with my application!

The workshop was set up by Anne Robertson (University of Roehampton) and Mauricio Petrucio (Federal University of Santa Catarina Florianópolis). The organisers originally initiated this UK-Brazilian collaboration in 2015, when they were awarded a grant from the RCUK and CONFAP (the Brazilian federal research agency) under an international collaboration call. This project entitled ‘Comparing community size patterns and food web structure at different trophic states in temperate and sub-tropical freshwater systems’ stimulated the need for further research on temperate and sub-tropical aquatic ecosystems, as well as the services they provide to society. The organisers then submitted a proposal to arrange a workshop specifically addressing this research topic in 2018, and were awarded the funds to do so by the British Council (under the Researcher Links Workshops programme) and FAPESC (state funding agency for Santa Catarina) later that year.

The workshop entitled ‘Researcher links workshop on ecosystem services’ targeted early career researchers studying aquatic ecosystems at UK and Brazilian institutions. It took place between 9th-13th January on the Santa Catarina island, located in southeastern Brazil. We stayed in the southern part of the island next to Peri Lake (indicated below). The aquatic ecosystems on the island have been comprehensively studied by researchers at the Federal University of Santa Catarina Florianópolis and internationally (e.g. Lisboa et al., 2015; Peralta‐Maraver et al., 2017).

Florianopolis map

The location of the workshop on the Santa Catarina island, Brazil (adapted from Figure 1 in Peralta‐Maraver et al., 2017. pp. 4535).

The first day of the workshop entailed a series of presentations introducing how the workshop came into fruition, the aims and objectives of the week and the aquatic ecosystems on Santa Catarina island. Following this, each early career researcher (ECR) was invited to give a short presentation to the group introducing themselves, their research interests and the context behind a dataset that they were providing to the workshop. The following day, ECRs were divided up into focus groups (each containing a balance of UK and Brazilian researchers) to begin discussing potential project and paper ideas. Later that day, a nominated member of each group fed their discussions back to the group, which were then deliberated in an open discussion. On the third day, we had a break from the classroom and went into the field to explore different aquatic environments across the island. We were lucky enough to see iconic scenery including different lagoons, Atlantic rainforests and Joaquina beach dunes (see below). In the afternoon of our fieldtrip, we visited the local water company facility who detailed the procedures for abstracting water from Peri Lake and how this is subsequently treated and supplied to the public. On the fourth day, we were back in the classroom and undertook more detailed discussions about potential projects and collaborations, with the view to establishing a comprehensive understanding of the next steps required to advance these ideas. ECRs were also invited to connect with a supervisor in a one on one meeting during this time to discuss career prospects. Discussions on potential projects overlapped into the morning of the final day of the workshop, which was subsequently concluded with an afternoon’s discussion of what are the next steps and potential funding opportunities for future research. After a week of lengthy discussions on ecosystem services, the cohort enjoyed the final night of the workshop with a BBQ in the glorious sunshine!

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Iconic scenery visited during our field excursion. Lagoa Pequena (top) and Joaquina beach dunes (bottom).

The fruitful discussions undertaken during our week in Brazil have been subsequently followed up back home, with email exchanges and the collation of datasets being undertaken in order to progress the development of research outputs. We hope this is the start of many future collaborations between participants of this workshop. So I would like to conclude by saying a huge thanks to Anne Robertson and Mauricio Petrucio for organising this workshop!

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The participants of the researcher links workshop on ecosystem services.

References

Lisboa, L.K., da Silva, A.L.L., Siegloch, A.E., Júnior, J.F.G. and Petrucio, M.M. (2015). Temporal dynamics of allochthonous coarse particulate organic matter in a subtropical Atlantic rainforest Brazilian stream. Marine and Freshwater Research, 66(8). 674-680.

Peralta‐Maraver, I., Robertson, A.L., Rezende, E.L., Lemes da Silva, A.L., Tonetta, D., Lopes, M., Schmitt, R., Leite, N.K., Nuñer, A. and Petrucio, M.M. (2017). Winter is coming: Food web structure and seasonality in a subtropical freshwater coastal lake. Ecology and evolution, 7(13). 4534-4542.

 

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