Friday, 6 March 2015
From Druridge Bay to Roman York, via the Lizard Peninsular
Most of our work focuses on Druridge Bay: monitoring how the communities of invertebrates change over the years in ponds at Hauxley, how the number of wetlands at Ellington Farm (the new Crown Estates name for Blakemoor Farm) vary with rainfall and quantifying the carbon capture across different pond types throughout the Bay. The ponds and wetlands certainly bury more carbon than the other habitats such as pasture or arable fields, but we need to check if that holds true in different regions of the UK or else we can’t say much beyond just the detail we have for Druridge. Pete and Scott have been venturing further afield, first to the Lizard Peninsular in Devon where many of the wetlands are technically Mediterranean, at least in their plant life. Last week Pete was down in Yorkshire, with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust taking sediment cores from small ponds on Askham Bog. The Bog is on the outskirts of York, and has long been used for peat digging and livestock, but retains a mysterious feel, especially amongst the denser scrub where a wrong turning can have you face to face with half wild horses. I don’t know which half is wild, though when I met them a few years back the front ends seemed plenty dangerous enough. Pete opted for cores from slightly less hazardous terrain, distinctive small rectangular ponds, some inside an enclosure which creates the undignified impression that he is a type of livestock.
The pond’s origins are uncertain, with some suggestions that these may be peat excavations going back as far as Roman York. The important criterion for selecting these sites is their small size. We want to characterise the carbon dynamics of smaller wetlands because these are the ones missing from carbon budgets, although such wetlands are ubiquitous and numerous. The Lizard and Askham Bog are lowland sites, to match the broad landscape of Druridge. We also plan to include some sites in Norfolk, which should add a hotter, drier biogeography into the mix. Lowland Northumberland, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Devon will make a good start to capture the variation in carbon burial around the country. The differences between wetlands around Druridge Bay is striking. Regional variations from cool northern, to hot southern should only add to this mix