Congratulations to Neil Coughlan who submitted his MSc thesis to the UCC graduate school on 8 January 2016. The title of his thesis is “Up, up and away: bird-mediated epizoochorous dispersal, an overlooked link between aquatic environments”.
Neil was jointly supervised by Dr. Tom Kelly and Prof. Marcel Jansen.
The central focus of Neil’s MSc work was bird-mediated, epizoochorous dispersal of aquatic plants. To ascertain whether aquatic plants entangled between bird feathers can be dispersed by birds, Neil analysed the microclimate between the feathers, and assessed the likelihood of plant survival under these conditions. Neil’s conclusion that bird-mediated epizoochorous transport of plants can account for short distance plant dispersal was demonstrated in a series of experiments where colonisation of empty “mini-ponds” by Lemna minor plants occurred with a very high frequency, even if other factors such as visiting rodents and wind were excluded.
Neil’s work has important implications for the management of invasive alien aquatic plants.