Disappearing Lakes (Turloughs)

Turloughs, priority habitats under the EU Habitats Directive, are temporal waterbodies on karstic limestone and are almost unique to Ireland.  Flooding, primarily in the winter, has resulted in the presence of plant and invertebrate communities adapted to wet and dry periods. The AEU has been studying these communities for many years, in particular, the impacts of summer grazing on the terrestrial invertebrate assemblages of turloughs.

Flood Meadows

The Shannon flood meadows (Callows) represent one of the biggest unregulated floodplains in north-western Europe. The complexities of determining sustainable management practices have been highlighted by AEU/ Botany, NUIG. Absence of summer meadow cutting can result in a decline in plant species richness but an increase in marsh fly species richness. Using scientific evidence to balance the better known needs of plant communities with the lesser known needs of terrestrial invertebrates is our main research focus.

Coastal Grasslands (Machair)

Machair which is restricted to the west coasts of Ireland and Britain, is an EU priority habitat in Ireland. Work at the AEU has focussed on the impacts of recreation on this fragile habitat which is one of the rarest in Europe.


The wide range of peatlands close to the AEU has facilitated us undertaking extensive research on the impacts of grazing on peatlands and future climate change impacts (with Maynooth University) as well as undertaking studies of the invertebrate communities of peatland habitats.