EDUCATE AND INFORM
One of LLFT's objectives is to educate and inform people of the work done to conserve and restore Loch Lomond's native fish populations, their habitats and the freshwater environment.
LOMOND IN THE CLASSROOM
LLFT believes education has an important role to play in encouraging interest in the aquatic environment. This year, we introduced a hugely successful "Lomond in the Classroom" to local primary schools. This gives children the chance to follow the life cycle of the endangered powan species from eggs until they hatch into fry. Releasing the fry into rivers gives pupils an opportunity for practical project work which instils a fascination and respect for nature and the fish that inhabit their local rivers and lochs.
The 6 week Lomond in the Classroom programme is outlined below.
Week 1 - INTRODUCTION
Children learned all about the Powan! We introduced and explained the purpose of Scientific names, covered features of fish and how to identify Powan, and the Powan's life cycle.
Week 2 - HABITATS
The pupils were introduced to habitats and why they are important to animals and fish. Pupils were given examples of different habitats and asked to describe the habitat conditions. They were given examples of animals one might find and were asked to suggest adaptations animals might have to survive in each habitat. They were then provided with examples of different water habitats found within the Loch Lomond catchment area and it was explained that within Lochs and rivers a wide range of different habitats could be found. The lesson then focused on key habitats found within a Loch system. Understanding the different habitats and conditions found within Loch Lomond helped our students to understand why Powan use these different habitats throughout its lifecycle.
Week 3 - PREDATORS & PREY
On Week 3 of the Lomond in the Classroom Project the children learned about food webs of Loch Lomond. To start, each class was introduced to the idea of food chains and shown well known examples. It was explained that each food chain starts with plant-life and ends with a consumer. Students were asked to think about and suggest names that might be given to animals in a food chain to describe their diet or what they might eat. During this section of the lesson the terms 'predators' and 'prey' were introduced and discussed. The lesson then moved onto food webs. It was explained that food webs are simply several of food chains in the one ecosystem joined up. The Powan food web was broken down into several food chains and then joined back up to help the students grasp this concept. During this section it was explained that throughout the Powan’s lifecycle it has different predators and prey.
Week 4 - THREATS TO POWAN
This week children learned why Powan is important and what might threaten its survival. They were asked to discuss why they think Powan is important and why it must be protected. It was highlighted that we should protect it because Powan is one of the rarest freshwater fish found in the UK, it is important to food webs within Loch Lomond and Loch Eck, and it is very vulnerable to changes made by humans. Using their knowledge from managing the Lomond hatchery and information from previous lessons, students suggested that pollution and warmer water could be bad for Powan. Following on from this, students were introduced to the topic of invasive non-native species and the damage they can cause to our wildlife. Examples of well known Invasive Non-Native Species were given to highlight the damage they can cause before each class was introduced to the Ruffe, a non-native fish species that was introduced into Loch Lomond. Using the information learnt in lesson one, students were asked to describe the key identifying features of the Ruffe. The damage caused to the Powan population by the introduction of the Ruffe was covered with the resultant changes to the Powan food web discussed in detail. To finish off this lesson, the concept of biological security was introduced. Students shown examples of biological security campaigns and simple ways to limit the movement of animals and plants.
Week 5 - LOCH LOMOND & TROSSACHS NATIONAL PARK
This week our Partners from the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority delivered a lesson about the National Park and the wildlife that lives there. They introduced each class to the concept of a National Park and the area that is protected as part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. They explained that while the National Park is set up to protect the wildlife and natural beauty, it was also there to encourage people to live, work and enjoy the National Park responsibly. Students were split up into groups and asked to think about where they might see a variety of different animals, plants, land and recreational uses within the National Park with the help of pictures and maps. The lesson finished with a discussion about the different types of wildlife that calls the National Park home. Examples of deer antlers, fungi, feathers, and animals were shown to the class.
Week 6 - CLOSING CEREMONY & POWAN REALEASE!
For the final session, small groups of 3-4 students were given an environmental topic to research and produce a poster to be displayed at the closing ceremony of the Project. The topics ranged from Wildlife found in Loch Lomond to looking after Powan in the Lomond hatchery to biological security campaigns. Students were encouraged to work together to produce vibrant and eye catching posters that would inform the public about their given topic. Students were given a number of weeks to work on these posters in their own time however our biologists and Volunteer Rangers were on hand to provide any extra support or information.
The main event of the closing ceremony was the poster presentations with students encouraged to interact each other and ask about their posters. Staff and Volunteer Rangers were also encouraged to go around and ask students about their posters and what they have learned about the project. Also displayed were posters of animals found within the National Park as well as videos of the Powan Collection, developing Powan eggs under a digital microscope, information about the National Park and conservations project. Some of our Powan eggs hatched in the last week of term before the Spring Holidays! Our biologists were out and able to release the newly hatched Alevins back into Loch Lomond! St Martins Primary School had amazing success this year with over 50 alevins released! Well Done everyone! We are looking forward seeing more release photos!
In 2013 Luss Primary School, on the shores of Loch Lomond, scooped a highly prestigious award in the British Animal Honours and shown on primetime on STV. The award was in recognition of the school’s successful participation in the trail-blazing “Powan in the Classroom” project, run by the Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust (LLFT). Powan are one of the rarest fish in the UK, with the population in Loch Lomond in serious long term decline.
This year, you can read the Luss Primary School Blog as it continues its Powan in the Classroom project.
Pupils from Luss Primary with their British Animal Award Medal