Cullen Fellow research on the carbon cycle at Burrishoole catchment

Brian DoyleBrian Doyle is a PhD student at Dundalk Institute of Technology and a Cullen Fellow at the Marine Institute. His research topic is on 'resolving the organic carbon budget of a salmonid, humic lake in the west of Ireland.'

Brian's research is focused on Lough Feeagh, a freshwater lake in the Burrishoole catchment near Newport, Co Mayo.

Brian's research utilises the comprehensive, long-term environmental monitoring data collected at the Marine Institute's Catchment Facilities at Newport.

"Over the course of my PhD, I am attempting to quantify the amount of carbon that is moving in the river and lake water and also in gas exchange with the atmosphere. I'm also investigating the main drivers of these carbon fluxes," Brian said.

"Burrishoole is a typical blanket peatland catchment. Intact peatlands are an important store of carbon and are acknowledged to be particularly important for current and future carbon cycling as they are hotspots for carbon storage," explains Brian. "As a result of a changing climate, peatlands are under threat. Future changes in climate conditions such as warmer temperatures and shifts in seasonal precipitation patterns are likely to drive changes to peat stability and increase carbon entering aquatic ecosystems."

Freshwater aquatic ecosystems in Ireland support a number of diadromous fish species including the Atlantic salmon. Increasing carbon levels have the potential to dramatically impact these freshwater aquatic ecosystems.

Brian's research on Lough Feeagh will result in a greater understanding of carbon cycling in peatland lakes, providing important insights into how carbon is cycled through aquatic food webs, such as salmon and trout.

During his Cullen Fellowship, Brian has had the opportunity to attend a Global Lake Ecological Observation Network (GLEON) meeting in Austria in 2016. He also had his first papeAltahoney River, Burrishoole Catchent, Newport, Co. Mayo. Photo Cr Joseph Cooneyr published in Biogeosciences Journal - 'Synchrony in catchment stream colour levels is driven by both local and regional climate'.

Brian says being part of the Marine Institute's Cullen Fellowship programme has provided valuable access to both academic and applied scientific practice. "One of the great benefits of the programme has been the wealth of hands-on knowledge and experience of the Marine Institute team at Newport. My supervisor Dr Elvira de Eyto is not only a leading academic in limnology, but also a practical, problem-solving environmental scientist in the field."

Brian's research supervisors are Dr Elvira de Eyto at the Marine Institute and Dr Eleanor Jennings at Dundalk Institute of Technology.

The Cullen Fellowship programme builds marine research capacity and capability by equipping graduates with the skills and expertise in raising awareness about our ocean, as well as Ireland's rich marine biodiversity and ecosystems. The programme has provided grant aid to the value of €2.06 million supporting 24 PhD and three MSc students over the last five years. The research addresses a number of the 15 research themes identified in the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021.

This project (Grant-Aid Agreement No. CF/15/05) is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.


National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021: Published in 2017, the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021 focuses on the broad topics identified in existing Government policies and strategies and provides a framework that recognises the complexity of research funding in the marine domain.