Loch Sunart and the Isle of Gigha

November 20th, 2018

Photo of a flame shell in Loch Sunart by Gordon Fletcher.
A big thanks to everyone who came along to our meeting, ‘Loch Sunart and the Isle of Gigha’ on the 14th November, which looked at the life in two very different post-glacial marine-scapes. Gordon did an excellent job exploring some of the fascinating life in Loch Sunart, which included flame shells (photo. above by Gordon Fletcher) and hard corals.

The life around Gigha might be described as prosaic – almost terrestrial in that is is dominated by large marine plants (though this is unusual for a marine ecosystem!). It did, however, open up a brief discussion about invasive species, led by observations of wireweed (Sargassum muticum) and Codium (tomentosum/fragilis). The problem with introduced species is that they are extremely difficult to remove once established, and the process of removal may be damaging to many other species in the area. For Codium, studies suggest that our native species are not being overwhelmed. Wireweed is hard to ignore, being a large spreading kelp species, but is also being colonised by local wildlife; so while it clearly competes with native species, it also presents opportunities for local wildlife. The final picture, I felt, was of quite a healthy mix of marine plant and animal species around the island.

You can read a more scientifically literate argument for considering invasives as a potentially valuable part of the ecological mix by Martin Schlaepfer in PLOS Biology – see ‘On the important of monitoring and valuing all forms of biodiversity‘.

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