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Title: Trophic modelling of the Lough Neagh ecosystem, Northern Ireland
Author: Vaughan, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 9176
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2009
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Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles. The lough is an important multi-purpose resource for the province of Northern Ireland. Previous research on the lough was combined with data from this study to analyse trophic components of the Lough Neagh ecosystem. Analysis of the biomass and abundance of taxonomic groups indicated that size-structuring was important within the system. Macro-invertebrates showed strong evidence of size-structuring over a depth gradient with biomass, abundance and body-size all increasing with depth. Stable isotope analysis showed the lough to be a relatively simple system with strong bases in planktivory and detritivory. It also highlighted the need for further research into other possible base sources within the lake food web. A mass balance trophic model was constructed for the system using the user friendly software Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE). Twenty functional groups were used in the analysis and EwE was used to assess the trophic relationship, energy flow and interactions between them. The model showed the under-utilisation of phytoplankton and detritus by consumers in the system and hence the low transfer efficiency of 6.4% for the overall system. Summary statistics sensu Odum showed that the lough is its early stages of development and consequently may be prone to perturbations particularly anthropogenic events. The model allowed for key gaps in the present research on Lough Neagh to be pinpointed. It is recommended that any further studies on the Lough Neagh ecosystem should include components on the waterfowl populations surrounding the lough as well as incorporating a bacterial element into any future models. The Ecosim component to EwE was investigated as a management tool for the lake system. The Ecosim component was capable of predicting general trends but was not recommended for use as a sole management tool for the ecosystem but rather as part of an integrated management system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available