TREE-ALLIANCE Radiation effects workshop
Professor Nick Beresford (Centre Ecology & Hydrology; @Radioecology) organised a workshop in Portsmouth from Monday 4th – 6th of March to bring together European researchers working in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to share findings as part of the TREE-ALLIANCE workshop. The Transfer-Exposure-Effect (TREE) project is part of the RATE programme and used Chernobyl as a natural laboratory to study the effects of radiation and the transfer of radionuclides to wildlife. The Radioecology Alliance brings together researchers into an integrated programme to maintain and enhance radioecology competences and assess the impact of radioactive substances on humans and the environment.
There were 30 attendees at the workshop, including researchers from Belgium, Ukraine, France, Norway, Spain, Ireland and UK with representatives from NERC, Radioactive Waste Management Ltd. and the Environment Agency who funded the RATE project. The workshop agenda is here and the pictures of the presentation can be found on twitter.
There were 25 presentations from the researchers summarising findings of the effects of radiation to a range of wildlife from soil biota, plants, bumblebees, daphnia, fish, birds and frogs to small and large mammals. It was amazing to hear the breadth of studies that have been happening in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, including, the epigenetic, genetic, microbiome, reproduction, life history changes, visual and acoustic signals, biodiversity and abundance.
The use of new techniques were fascinating, drones to investigate ecological recovery post forest fire, camera traps and acoustic recordings to investigate biodiversity. The findings from the studies were varied, some people finding effects whereas others did not. The effects studies will be compiled and a meta-analysis is being conducted to try to tease out the effects of chronic low dose radiation on invertebrates and help clarify what the overall effect of radiation on wildlife.
The main outcomes from the workshop were knowledge exchange and the sharing of ideas. We are also identifying what extra information we have collected for each site in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone which will be pooled into a dataset. For the meta-analysis, the collation of unpublished data and non-significant results is really important so asking for this in one of my talks was a great opportunity. Finally, we discussed the way forward and collective priorities for research and the field in general.