Photo by Raul Cacho Oses via Unsplash

July 2020

Participatory Video creation in Bristol

This July we hosted a screening of the videos that our Bristol participants created as part of our work on how local people perceive and value the blue-spaces around them. Over the winter, residents of Bristol living in our study areas were invited to take part in a series of workshops (in parallel with the Mexico team, described below) to learn about creating films using their smartphones, and this culminated in a virtual (thanks to Covid 19) screening event where the films were shown and discussed. The above is one of these films. Huge thanks to all our participants and to Knowle West Media Centre who partnered with us in this part of the project. 

Above: the Magdalena river, one of the RESPiRES study site where the Rapid Assessment has been conducted. Below: volunteers and scientists walking to the assessment site. 

June 2020

Rapid Assessment training in Mexico City

The RESPiRES team in Mexico gave a short course in UAM-Cuajimalpa regarding the use of the RESPIRES rapid assessment tool for monitoring freshwater habitats. This tool is an online application to assess the quality of any man-made, artificial or natural pond, section of lake, stream, river, canal and drain, in any landscape (urban, rural, agricultural etc.) and season. Alongside physical habitat monitoring this rapid assessment considers the quality of habitat for society, particularly in relation to amenity and access.



Undergraduate students from UAM (Socioterritorial Studies  and Biology) attended the course where a thorough explanation regarding the use of the tool was given. The training allowed their later participation in more than 50 assessments undertaken in different blue spaces in Mexico City between November 2019 and march 2020.


Part of the RESPiRES project includes the creation of digital tools such as this rapid assessment, in order to allow different groups of people to participate in monitoring blue spaces whilst still gathering accurate monitoring data. 

March 2020

Participatory Video Workshops in Mexico City

In Mexico City, a group of researchers and community members attended a week long workshop learning about a collaborative technique called Participatory Video. Twelve people attended including collaborators of the Mexican RESPiRES team, members of REDES association, and inhabitants of San Gregorio Atlapulco, Magdalena Atlitic and Canal Nacional communities. The workshop, facilitated by La Marabunta Filmadora (, aimed to train participants in the use of participatory audiovisual techniques. Also, the training promoted learning based on experience, developing trust and exchanging of ideas between peers. For RESPiRES project, the use of participatory methodologies is very important as it will help us to explore different people's perceptions, and will give voice to the multiple stakeholders. This will help us to understand the role that blue spaces have within cities’ socio-ecological resilience.

Participants learn about creating storyboards

Learning techniques for using audiovisual equipment

Two cyanobacteria species. Left: Filamentous cyanobacteria: Anabaena spp. x400 (this group has been almost entirely re-classified), Right. Colonial cyanobacteria: Microcystis aeruginosa x100.

Two Euglenoid species. Left: Euglena spp. x400. Right: Phacus spp. x400. These Euglenoid species are classified as part of the protists or protozoa group which means "pre-animal" or "animal-like". The Euglena species on the left has a characteristic 'S' shaped body, and swims vigorously by using a structure called a flagella to propel it. 

Diatoms x1000. Left: Gomphonema spp. Right: Navicula spp.

Diatoms are a subgroup of algae and as a main characteristic is that their single cell bodies are rigid, and not soft like other algae groups, because their bodies have silica which forms a “shell of glass”.

January 2020

Algae! What are they and why do we monitor them?

RESPiRES scientists delve into a microscopic world

Algae is the name given to a large diverse group of living organisms that grow mostly in water and, like plants, algae can produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Some algae are very familiar to us, such as seaweeds, kelp and pond scum, because they can be seen by the naked eye. Other algae can be seen only through a microscope.

Algae are important. The oxygen produced provides suitable living conditions, and are an important food source for other organisms.

Algae are sensitive to chemical changes in water, and therefore understanding which algae are present can give us important information about the conditions and quality of the water.

In the RESPiRES project, we have been studying the algae found in blue spaces (rivers, lakes, ponds and streams) across Bristol. This involves looking at water samples under the microscope and identifying the algae present by their shape and features, as shown in these photos. This is very detailed complex work, and we are working from keys and databases to help with identification.

Once our analysis is complete, as well as understanding more about water quality, we will also be building up a picture of how resilient these blue spaces are. This feeds into the later phases of RESPiRES, when we will explore ways of increasing and monitoring resilience to protect important habitats in the future.

Please click here to read more about our work with algae

October 2019

RESPiRES becomes a Hush City Ambassador

We are really excited to have become a Hush City Ambassador and to be using the Hush City app in our survey work of bluespaces in Bristol and Mexico City. Hush City is an interactive project inviting people to use their mobile phones to map the soundscape of their local city. As our cities become noisier places to live, more people are affected by noise pollution across the world. The Hush City app is helping researchers to identify, access and evaluate "everyday quiet areas" in their neighbourhoods. Check out the website now for more information and to explore the interactive map of places that have already been measured:

Would you like to get involved with the project? We would love to hear from you! Please drop us an email HERE or use the contact form below. 

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