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Impacts of piscivorous birds on salmonid populations and game fisheries in Scotland: a review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Catriona M Harris, J. Calladine, C.W. Wernham, K.J. Park

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Abstract

The Scottish populations of salmonids are important both ecologically and economically. Game fisheries for Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, sea trout Salmo trutta trutta and brown trout Salmo trutta fari are all highly acclaimed and generate substantial levels of income for Scotland, but many populations are in decline and efforts are being made to ensure the future sustainability of these species. These declines have led to a focus On the impact of piscivorous bird predation on fish populations. The purpose of our review was to assess the evidence for population-level impacts on salmonid populations, and/or economic impacts on Scottish game fisheries of predation by the four primary UK freshwater piscivorous bird species: cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, goosander Mergus merganser, red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator and grey heron Ardea cinerea. There is evidence that these birds can, in some situations, remove large numbers of fish from stocked and natural fisheries. However, a lack of information on fish population levels, the numbers and species composition of feeding birds, and robust calculations of fish consumption has hampered the conversion of the results of the existing studies into useful quantitative measures of impact. As a consequence, few studies have demonstrated any reductions in numbers of breeding fish or fish productivity due to predation by piscivorous birds, or direct economic loss to fisheries in Scotland. We support a previous recommendation for a reiterative procedure of modelling, experimentation and remodelling to assess the impacts of piscivorous birds on fisheries. Wide-scale Studies of the movements of piscivorous birds, their feeding locations in relation to river characteristics, and the factors that make fish particularly vulnerable to predation are seen as important areas for future research.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-411
Number of pages17
JournalWildlife Biology
Volume14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

    Research areas

  • cormorant, economic losses, goosander, heron, predation, red-breasted merganser, salmon, trout, CORMORANTS PHALACROCORAX-CARBO, JUVENILE ATLANTIC SALMON, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, COLUMBIA RIVER, SALAR L., GREAT CORMORANTS, SCOTTISH RIVERS, OCEAN CLIMATE, TOP PREDATORS, SMOLT RUN

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