9 April 2019: Freshwater Conservation Masters Course
On a Monday morning in early March 2019, a group of 12 Conservation Biology Masters students from around the world (and enrolled for a master’s degree at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology) arrived in Bainskloof for a week of field biology, lectures, films and campfires.
Using the University of Cape Town’s Field station as a base, the students set nets to sample fish populations in different parts of the river – samples which provided insights into how rivers change when alien fish invade, when invasive plants infest river banks, and when water is abstracted and piped away for use elsewhere.
Indeed, the Witte River in Bains Kloof is a first-class ‘living laboratory’ from which to learn and come face-to-face with some of the area’s unique freshwater species. It’s also the perfect stage for learning the basics of river biomonitoring using the diversity of weird and wonderful invertebrate species living in the river.
The class was fortunate to be joined in the field by CapeNature fish scientist Dean Impson, who shared his wealth of insights and entertaining anecdotes under the shade of a wild almond tree.
The field trip was followed up by a day spent with FRC researchers at the Centre’s headquarters, tapping into expert knowledge on topics ranging from environmental flows by FRC researcher Dr Bruce Paxton to environmental DNA by Dr Jessica da Silva at SANBI!
The course concluded with each student giving a talk on a topical freshwater conservation issue, and the high level of enthusiasm and insight shown the presentations was testament a successful week of freshwater conservation learning.
The course was designed and run by the Freshwater Research Centre.
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