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Online (Zoom)
North Wales branch

An online lecture on pioneering freshwater ecologist Kathleen Carpenter, delivered by Catherine Duigan FRSB, followed by the branch AGM

Event outline

Out of the spoils of industrial pollution came enlightenment. In Wales we are all too familiar with the scars left by our industrious forebears extracting riches from below the scenic beauty of our land. The South Wales Valleys with the remains of coal mining and the multi-coloured gaping hole in Parys Mountain, a legacy of hundreds of years of copper mining are all too obvious to escape attention. 

There was, however, a catastrophic situation hidden from view - the pollution of rivers due to lead and zinc mining.  Hidden from view that is until enlightenment came in the shape of a young biologist, Kathleen Carpenter, studying at the University College of Aberystwyth in the early twentieth century. She observed; she described; she experimented and solved the cause of the loss of freshwater and migratory fish in the rivers of Cardiganshire.

As biologists, we all know and respect instrumental analysis but we also know that if you want to establish the health of an ecosystem you ask its inhabitants. Kathleen did just that on the rivers of West Wales and she found that aquatic invertebrates in pristine environments inhabit particular zones. She grouped them accordingly and linked them with the fish species encountered with them. She also found that where waters received toxic materials the natural species list was reduced in specific ways: all this as a forerunner to today's many examples of Biotic Index.

In this online lecture, Dr Catherine Duigan FRSB of the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee will describe the pioneering work of Kathleen Carpenter, a woman working in a male-dominated world and one who founded so much of freshwater ecology.

The lecture will be followed by the RSB North Wales branch AGM. The AGM is a chance for members and non-members to come together to talk to the committee and hear about updates in their activities and finances, and to plan for the year ahead.

Cost and booking

This event is free to attend and open to all however only RSB North Wales members are eligible to vote in the AGM. Please register in advance at the top of the page, and the Zoom link will be sent to all registered attendees ahead of the event.


For event queries, please contact the branch chair, Michael Willis, at
For booking and website queries, contact Harriet McAra at or on 020 3925 3445.