Freshwater ecology Master’s student wins poster prize

November 12th, 2019

Ms Sunita Shrestha was the proud recipient of a best poster award at the International Youth Conference on Science,Technology and Innovation (IYCSTI) on 21-23 October, 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Koshi Tappu Wetlands
Koshi Tappu Wetlands

Koshi Tappu Wetlands, Source: CSIRO, Tanya Doody

The conference

Ms Sunita Shrestha, explains her poster to conference attendee
Ms Sunita Shrestha, explains her poster to conference attendee

Ms Sunita Shrestha, explains her poster to a conference attendee

Ms Shrestha presented a poster entitled, ‘Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Seasonal Water Level Fluctuation in Wetlands of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal‘ at the International Youth Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation (IYCSTI),  which was jointly organised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and National Youth Council (NYC).

A PDF of the poster is available: Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Seasonal Water Level Fluctuation in Wetlands of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal

The science

Ms Shrestha obtained a Master degree in Environmental Science at Central Department of Environmental Science, Tribhuvan University in November 2019. Her research investigated the relationship between small aquatic animals without a backbone and aquatic larval stages of insects (also called macroinvertebrates) as indicators for changes in flow ecology in

A person taking samples of macroinvertebrates in a wetland
Ms Shrestha undertaking field work by sampling wetlands for macroinvertebrates

Ms Shrestha undertaking field work by sampling wetlands for macroinvertebrates

the Koshi Tappu Wetlands.

Ms Shrestha was supervised by Dr Deep Narayan Shah, Assistant Professor of the Central Department of Environmental Science and Dr Ram Devi Tachamo Shah, Freshwater Specialist of the Aquatic Ecology Center, Kathmandu University and is a grantee of e-flow project phase II, with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

Ms Shrestha carried out field work in the wetlands in and around the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in the Koshi Basin. She undertook three areas of investigation:

  1. measurements of macroinvertebrates to understand how they respond to seasonal changes
  2. measurements of water level relationships using benthic macroinvertebrates as indicators of how water moves and flows (flood, high flow, low flow or drought)
  3. understanding how macroinvertebrates respond to changes in the chemistry and biology of freshwater ecosystems.

The importance

Koshi Tappu Wetlands
Koshi Tappu Wetlands

Koshi Tappu Wetlands, Source: CSIRO, Tanya Doody

Ecological prosperity of Nepal’s water environments is important for ecosystem health and the livelihoods of those that rely on these ecosystems.

 

Freshwater ecosystems across Nepal are increasingly vulnerable to the changes that humans make to the environment as well as climate change.

If we know more about the ecological requirements of freshwater ecosystems, we will understand the possible impacts of changed conditions in the use and management of that water. Ultimately leading to the sustainable management of water resources and protection of ecosystems.

The partnership

There are very few published studies of the water requirements of freshwater ecosystems in the Koshi River Basin and Nepal in general.

To increase knowledge of freshwater ecology in Nepal, CSIRO researchers Tanya Doody and Susan Cuddy, working through the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP), established a collaboration with ecologists from Nepal universities.

They collected, collated and analysed data to produce, for the first time in Nepal and the Koshi River Basin, the report, ‘Connecting flow and ecology in Nepal: current state of knowledge for the Koshi Basin‘, that recorded qualitative* and quantitative* data on flow-ecology relationships.

This report led to further collaborations, and in 2018 and 2019 three Master or Science students and one Doctor of Philosophy student undertook field work to determine flow-ecology relationships and therefore habitat requirements of important environmental assets (e.g. Ganga dolphin, macroinvertebrates, birds and aquatic vegetation).

In Nepal these project collaborations have strengthened the research capacity of staff and students in conducting biophysical research and enhanced their capacity to engage in sustainable water planning and policy dialogues, either as university staff, officials in government ministries, or consultants.

In Australia the project has strengthened understanding of freshwater ecology and flow ecology for input into future management scenarios and future water modelling tools.

About SDIP

This work is part of a portfolio of investments supported by the Australian Government addressing the regional challenges of water, food and energy security in South Asia.

The SDIP Phase 2 aims to improve the integrated management of water, energy and food in the Himalayan river basins, addressing climate risk and the interests of women and girls. It seeks to:

  • strengthen practices for regional cooperation
  • generate and use critical new knowledge to enhance regional cooperation
  • improve the regional enabling environment for private sector engagement.

Find out more about SDIP in CSIRO by visiting our website

Find out more about the Nepal work in SDIP

Access the SDIP publications

Find more information about international water research at CSIRO