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Research Topics

This project aims to integrate information from different aspects of turlough ecohydrology with a view to identifying the critical factors which influence biological diversity within and among turloughs. The key project tasks relevant to each research topic are presented below.

The extensive aspect of the project aims to investigate the relationships of catchment characteristics and associated eutrophication risk with within-site hydrological regimes, trophic status and biological communities across 20 turloughs. The intensive project aspect aims to assess the implications of within-site spatial and temporal variations for biological and hydrochemical assessments within 4 turloughs.

Research Projects



Project Title: The hydrological dynamics of turloughs.

Ph.D. Student: Owen Naughton, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Mathematics and Engineering, TCD.

  • Measurement of relevant hydrological parameters, based on water level records, which can be correlated with hydrochemical and biotic community data.
  • Mapping topography within turloughs using kinetic GPS equipment will define a 3D form of each turlough from which residence time of floodwaters can be approximated.
  • Delineation of zones of groundwater contributing to each turlough using water table maps, bedrock maps and limited borehole drilling and tracing studies.


Project Title: Links between turlough vegetation diversity and hydrology.

Ph.D. Student: Nova Sharkey, Dept of Botany, School of Natural Sciences, TCD.

  • Evaluate previous qualitative descriptions of turlough vegetation communities using semi-quantitative methods.
  • Determine whether depth, duration or timing (or a combination of all three) is the most important driver in defining turlough vegetation communities.
  • Devise an efficient, cost effective protocol for mapping turlough vegetation communities.


Post-doctoral subproject: Turlough soil types and soil nutrients.

Post-doctoral researcher: Dr. Sarah Kimberley, Centre for the Environment, School of Natural Sciences, TCD.

  • Describe and map broad soil groups within each turlough and relate their distribution to variations in topography and hydrological regime.
  • Provide a soil nutrient assessment of each turlough.

Aquatic Invertebrates

Project Title: Aquatic invertebrate community dynamics of Irish turloughs.

Ph.D. Student: Gwendolin Porst, Dept. of Zoology, School of Natural Sciences, TCD.

  • Identify and compare invertebrate community structures among a range of turlough types.
  • Investigate spatial and temporal variability in benthic macroinvertebrate communities within and among turloughs and on an interannual basis.
  • Identify the response of invertebrate community structures to a range of environmental variables.

Algae and hydrochemistry

Project Title: Algal and hydrochemical dynamics of Irish turloughs.

Ph.D. Student: Helder Pereira, Centre for the Environment, School of Natural Sciences, TCD.

  • Identify phytoplanktonic and benthic algal communities and relative abundance of taxa.
  • Identify important seasonal trends in algal population dynamics.
  • Investigate the extent to which variations in algal biomass and diversity reflect changes in turlough hydrochemical status and hydrological regime.

Catchment-scale and within-site management

Post-doctoral researcher: Dr. Sarah Kimberley, Centre for the Environment, School of Natural Sciences, TCD.

  • Catchment-scale pressures and pathways related to each site will be identified within delineated catchments using landuse datasets and groundwater vulnerability maps.
  • Within-turlough scale management pressures will be evaluated by site assessments and landowner information derived from questionnnaires relating to site management history.
Last updated: Nov 22 2009.