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A strategic programme for NERC Lowland catchment research
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Students' work

LOCAR provided a wide range of research and training opportunities for young researchers in environmental science. The work of four of the students who took part in LOCAR is highlilghted here.

sampling a pond

Helen Moggridge, a PhD student at King's College London, studied the regeneration of willow trees on the banks of the River Frome.

Helen found that the survival of willows depends on spring flooding - information which will help river restoration projects. "Working in a LOCAR catchment has really helped my research as there is so much data available on the river," said Helen. "There are also many other LOCAR researchers working on the Frome who have all been really supportive - and it's much more fun working in a team! The annual meetings have provided an opportunity to publicise my research and meet other scientists in the field. Being part of LOCAR has been a very positive experience, principally because it has given me the opportunity to join a large, diverse research community."

Nathan Callaghan studied the water use of woodland growing on saturated soils.

"I have been measuring the amount of water used by wetland trees growing on sites with different species composition, structure and hydrology," Nathan explained. "I've learnt to use a number of techniques, working at the leaf, tree and landscape scale. The work is a collaboration between CEH and the Open University, but LOCAR provides a much larger framework of research which has made me realise the relevance of my work and how it fits into the bigger picture."

Ben Thomas, a student at Exeter University, has used computer simulation to assess climate change impacts on catchment hydrology and soil erosion.

Ben said, "The dynamics of river flow and eroded soil have major implications for the sustainability of river and riparian ecosystems, and my computational contribution to the broader environmental issue is immensely satisfying. My participation in the LOCAR project has given me a solid grounding in conceptualising problems and writing computer programs to solve them. Together with an advanced knowledge of managing and analysing vast quantities of data, my research has afforded me a skill base that is more diverse and transferable than one traditionally associates with PhD study."

David Hussey is a PhD student at the University of East Anglia studying what happens to pharmaceutical drugs administered to animals.

David said, "Antibiotics are widely used in veterinary medicine and large amounts find their way into the soil. But how long do they remain in the soil before being degraded and will they reach the rivers? Are they a danger to humans and are new regulations needed? My research is concerned with an antibiotic used in pig farming in the Pang catchment and seeks to assess the quantities of it in soil and surface waters to inform answers to these questions. LOCAR has given me the opportunity to research an important environmental problem and to make a real contribution."