Staff from APEM and the National Museum of Scotland have surveyed almost 100 lagoons and potential lagoons in Scotland’s Western Isles, on behalf of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
The three-week survey of 98 sites in North and South Uist, Benbecula and Grimsay was completed in September.
It aimed to establish the extent and condition of the lagoon habitat at the sites and report on the biota present. The data will allow SNH to meet its reporting obligations under the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.
Dr Kevin Linnane, APEM’s project director for the work, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this work, which will help inform reporting on these habitats for the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.”
“It was also interesting for us to be using the new lagoon monitoring protocols developed by SNH.”
Where possible specimens gathered during the surveys were identified in situ, with specimens also collected to allow for microscopic identification and preservation for DNA analysis.
As this Annex I priority habitat is very poorly understood, the monitoring programme was designed to address any attributes that relate to vulnerability and condition of the lagoon habitats. This included recording all species present at defined sampling locations within each lagoon, with particular attention to lagoonal specialists, charophytes and selected vascular plants, with accurate determination to species level within difficult taxonomic groups.
All animal and charophyte records from each lagoon were backed up with collected voucher material, which has been sent to the National Museum of Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. All records included associated GPS locations, salinity, temperature and depth data, and contextual photography.
A licence was obtained under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for the disturbance and collection of the protected lagoonal specialist plant and invertebrate species that could have been encountered during the work.
APEM is currently preparing a series of reports based on the data and these will include GIS information, georeferenced photography, a species list for each lagoon or site sampled and comments on the conservation value of each lagoon, amongst other information.
The reports are expected to be published in early 2017.
If you have any queries, please contact Dr Kevin Linnane, principal marine scientist.
Alternatively you can email them here. Or call 0161 42 8938.