Small Water Bodies at SEFS9

30th July 2015

Jeremy reports back from the July 2015 Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences held this year in Geneva, where he led a session on small water bodies

Small water bodies in the Swiss Alps

Over 600 people involved in freshwater science from all over Europe (and a few from other parts of the world too) got together in Geneva in early July for the 9th annual Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences.

What happens at these meetings? Well, essentially people give 15-20 minutes talks about their research and then they socialise and chat about what they do with other people who are as deeply involved as them. In many cases their research is also a natural passion which they are lucky enough to be able to indulge as work. For younger people beginning their science careers you get to meet and hear from the big names in your area, you get to practice the scary business of talking about your work to other specialists, and you have a chance to think about new ideas away from the pressure of daily work.

You can see the programme on the SEFS9 website. At first sight it all looks very dry and heavy (and of course some talks are more interesting than others!) but a good speaker, ranging across a large and important subject, can be very inspiring.

In big conferences, talks are grouped into areas with a common theme. At this year’s meeting Freshwater Habitats Trust and University College Dublin co-organised a session called ‘Small Water Bodies: knowledge base, importance, threats and future research priorities’. We wanted to give a platform to the increasing number of researchers who are interested in all kinds of small freshwaters, from tiny alpine springs to ponds and headwaters, which together make a huge part of the freshwater network, but have often been overlooked in the past. By organising meetings like this we can encourage researchers across the continent to get involved in research which will practically help with the protection of freshwater biodiversity.

For me the meeting was a chance to meet up with people working on freshwaters across the continent, and help Freshwater Habitats Trust get the message out about the importance of small and large waters. There are many more people working on ponds, headwaters and small streams than 20 years ago, and we have helped make that change. And of course it was great to chat to old friends who have helped us over the years, and to start up new partnerships.

We will share more information from our talk on small water bodies soon.