Our doctoral students in the international EuroPonds project

Marta Zawadzka i Dawid Dąbrowski
Marta Zawadzka and Dawid Dąbrowski, doctoral students at the University of Warmia and Mazury, are taking part in a project aimed at studying the biodiversity of aquatic insects. About 80 young scientists from all around Europe are participating in it.

The EuroPonds project, carried out by the European Federation of Freshwater Sciences (EFFS) and EFFS Associations, attempts to explain the environmental role of aquatic insects and the way the trophic condition of ponds affects the biodiversity of newly appearing insects. Only three teams from Poland are taking part in this year’s 3rd edition of the project, along with nearly 80 young researchers from all over Europe. One of them includes two young researchers from the UWM – Marta Zawadzka and Dawid Dąbrowski, doctoral students at the Faculty of Environmental Management and Agriculture of the UWM.

What will their research as part of the EuroPonds involve?

“We will be collecting water samples from small ponds to check the biodiversity in them, and how it affects biodiversity in the whole region. Do species expand from one pond to another? We are going to deal with bottom macroinvertebrates, mainly insects – dragonflies, mosquitoes and mayflies and their larvae and mature forms. We are also going to check the nutritional and energy value of ponds for lizards and frogs”, explains Dawid Dąbrowski.

Dawid and Marta are also going to take interest in small in-field ponds near Brodnica.

“I’m conducting research for my doctoral thesis there and Dawid is also taking part in it. Therefore, we proposed that these small ponds could also be included in the project research. They had to meet the conditions, i.e. their area could not be smaller than 5,000 m2. We provided the GPS coordinates, the organisers checked them on the map and accepted”, adds Marta Zawadzka.

The research for EuroPonds complements the research that the two young scientists are conducting for their doctoral theses. They are taking part in the EuroPonds project thanks to their membership of the Polish Hydrobiological Society, which responded to the project coordinators’ invitation.

“We both graduated from environmental protection at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and we are a little bit hydrobiologists”, they explain.

They have already begun their work on the ponds. For a start, they had to make special traps.

“In autumn, we are going to collect our first samples. We are also going to collect samples of benthos, i.e. of what is at the bottom. Then, we’re going to examine the samples in our University laboratories. All the project participants must act according to the same methodology, because only then will the research be reliable”, they explain.

The project is going to last a year. Apart from the research, the participants are going to take part in a scientific conference in Ireland, a workshop in Austria and to prepare a paper to sum up the research.

Marta and Dawid are also members of the Oikos Student Science Club at the Faculty of Geoengineering of the UWM, supervised by Dr Izabela Jabłońska-Barna of the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Ecology of the Faculty of Geoengineering. They say it was Dr Jabłońska-Barna who encouraged them to take part in the project and influenced their choice of the subject matter of their doctoral theses.

“We are glad that we’re taking part in the EuroPonds project because it’s a great opportunity to see how others work”, they sum up.

Marta Zawadzka’s doctoral thesis is supervised by Prof. Agnieszka Kosewska of the Department of Entomology, Phytopathology and Molecular Diagnostics of the Faculty of Environmental Management and Agriculture, whereas Dawid Dąbrowski’s doctoral thesis is supervised by Prof. Mirosław Grzybowski of the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Ecology of the Faculty of Geoengineering. Dr Izabela Jabłońska-Barna is an auxiliary supervisor of both doctoral students’ theses.

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