Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fish Monitoring Training Seminar: Sperchios River

27-28-29 April 2015. Loutra Ypatis, Sperchios River, Greece. 

Standardization of river fish sampling for monitoring is critical for researching, protecting and managing inland aquatic ecosystems. In Greece, widespread fish populations monitoring in rivers begun with the application of the Water Framework Directive, just during the last 15 years. We have built our know-how through many collaborations with European institutes and experienced professionals and strive to ameliorate our methods for best monitoring practice.

Four research teams and their students gathered at the Sperchios River in Central Greece for a mini-seminar on the subject of our rapid assessment electrofishing technique. It was a closed meeting (not-for-the-public) - only selected persons now using the monitoring protocols for the National Monitoring Network would be involved. 17 persons participated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Fisheries Research Institute (INALE), University of Ioannina, and HCMR.
Members of the Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters - Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) led this training initiative.

The seminar consisted of an indoors session where HCMR's rapid assessment protocol was discussed in detail and several discussions developed. We focused on the field form we have finalized for monitoring and the optimal habitat/pressure data gathering during the sampling effort. We discussed both EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) uses and Habitats Directive data uses. Field sampling trails at two locations on the river also took place. Members of the different academic teams used the rapid assessment protocol in order to demonstrate technique and best practice in a particularly difficult  part of the river.  The sampling took place at the mid section of the river's main-stem (downstream of Loutra Ypatis bridge and downstream of Kastri Village). The river is now wide; it is freshet now, snow-waters melting, cold-river fast flowing conditions.

Our rapid assessment sampling method exerts extra effort to sample in waters such as these, although this must be done with more than one anode to be most effective. We caught five species of fish in these mid-stream sections: Vardar Chub, Greek Barbel, Sperchios Barbel, Sperchios Sprilin, and Marathon Minnow.We also saw a lot of pressures affecting this beautiful river - channel straightening, inappropriate flood control works, harsh river engineering with no respect for flood-pulse morphology. Embankments are still being raised. Trash everywhere also. Anyway....

We thank the hotel that hosted us and took care of all needs including the conversion of the lobby into a small auditorium/classroom. The Hotel Alexakis (http://hotelalexakis.gr/en/) in Loutra Ypatis is a wonderful base!

Everyone is welcome to download our rapid assessment manual and field protocols here:

I post a few of the snap-shots we took; it was a great couple of days with motivated people of similar interests who love their rivers and know their fish!

Petrol-powered Backpack Electrofishing. Vassilis Tachos explains site sampling requirements.

First site: Downstream of Loutra Ypatis bridge.

Downstream of Loutra Ypatis bridge.

Downstream of Loutra Ypatis bridge (in background).

 Backpack Battery-Powered Electrofishing.Team from Ioannina, Thessaloniki and HCMR working together.
Teamwork on field protocol. Really warm day! 
Second site: Just downstream of the village of Kastri, near the confluence of the Vistritsa Tributary.

Jimmy K and Alexandros check the generator while the others inspect site.

Argyris Sapounidis, Jimmy (aka Dimitris Kommats) and Nicholas Koutsikos using the shore-based generator.

Nektarios Kalaitzakis manning the generator's electricity wires.

Protocol handlers: Aimilia Panagiotou, Leonidas Vardakas, and Nektarios.

Vardar chub. 
Sperchios barbel.

Sperchios spirlin.
Photis Arapoglou in discussion with seminar leader Vassilis Tachos.

Class-room environment: Protocols in hand, fresh coffee served.
Research Leader Alicibiades Economou from HCMR.
Anthi, Photis, Yorgos, Argyris organizing gear.
Confluence of Vistritsa on the Sperchios river at Kastri Village.
Hotel Alexakis at Loutra Ypatis Village, Phthiotis, near Lamia and very close to the beautiful Sperchios.

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