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Exploring the biodiversity of Britain’s rivers

1 August 2016


The impact of river biodiversity on the unique supply of valuable goods and services, such as fish and fresh water, is being explored in the Keynote Science lecture at this year’s National Eisteddfod.

Dr Siân Griffiths, from Cardiff University School of Biosciences and the University's Water Research Institute, will present the lecture at 1pm on Thursday 4 August to discuss the serious threats facing rivers and the communities that depend on them.

The presentation will begin with an overview of the past and future pressures that rivers and their water sources are under, and the problem of water security and supply. Using electronic voting keypads, the audience will then take part in a unique interactive poll and discussion where their responses will be developed into river management solutions. The talk will conclude with a short film, narrated by TV presenter Dr Rhys Jones, to explore how some of the audience’s solutions might impact the future of Welsh uplands.

Dr Griffiths explained how biodiversity can impact the benefits rivers provide for us.

“The UK has 389,000 km of rivers and these are some of our most important natural assets. A multitude of river organisms working together in an intricate web of life is needed for the river processes to contribute to water clarification, purification and production of charismatic species like fish and birds. So, not only do our river organisms have strong cultural value, but they also support the UK’s water industry, worth £10 billion per year.

Worryingly, pressures on ecosystems will grow in the future and these important services are at risk as land use intensifies, water demands increase and the climate continues to change. I’m delighted that the Eisteddfod is giving timely prominence to these important issues.

This is a fantastic opportunity for me to showcase how research led by Cardiff University and conducted with stakeholder partners in the uplands of Wales can benefit both river landscapes and the communities depending on them."

Dr Griffiths is also delivering a separate hands-on demonstration to the public in the Cardiff University tent, discussing the impact of alien species introductions on native river ecosystems.

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