Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 25–35 | Cite as

The Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) populations of Windermere, UK: population trends associated with eutrophication, climate change and increased abundance of roach (Rutilus rutilus)

  • Ian J. Winfield
  • Janice M. Fletcher
  • J. Ben James
Special Issue Charr


The north and south basins of Windermere in the English Lake District, UK, support autumn- and spring-spawning populations of Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, which have been studied since the 1930s. Continuous investigations of the population dynamics of Arctic charr at this lake have involved gill netting since 1939, collection of fishery catch-per-unit-effort data since 1966, and hydroacoustic surveys since 1990. Analysis of these and associated long-term data on the abiotic environment and other components of the fish communities revealed recently contrasting fortunes of the Arctic charr populations of the north and south basins, the latter of which has been significantly impacted by eutrophication while both basins have shown elevated water temperatures and increasing roach, Rutilus rutilus, populations. Despite the introduction of phosphate stripping in 1992 and some subsequent initial improvement, the hypolimnion of the south basin still remains significantly eutrophicated and the fishery catch-per-unit-effort in this basin is now at record low levels. In addition, the spatial distribution of roach has expanded to form significant components of the fish communities of inshore and offshore surface habitats, where this cyprinid may compete with Arctic charr for zooplanktonic prey. It is concluded that the Arctic charr populations of Windermere, particularly those of the south basin, currently face a number of significant environmental pressures and continued management action is required to ensure their survival.


Population dynamics Hydroacoustics Invasive species Conservation Fisheries 



We would like to thank many past and present colleagues too numerous to name here for their help in the field and laboratory and for allowing our use of their unpublished data. We are indebted to the late John Cooper and to Bruce Dobson for allowing us to use their records of Arctic charr fishing effort and catches, and to Ben Bayliss, Graeme McKee, Jeremy Westgarth and colleagues of the Environment Agency for organising the current log book scheme for Arctic charr anglers and allowing our use of 2004 and 2005 data from it. We appreciate the work of three anonymous reviewers whose thoughts substantially improved our manuscript. We are also grateful to the Freshwater Biological Association for their joint stewardship of the Windermere long-term data. This work was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, Environment Agency and United Utilities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian J. Winfield
    • 1
  • Janice M. Fletcher
    • 1
  • J. Ben James
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyLancaster Environment CentreBailrigg, LancasterUK

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