Hydrobiologia

, Volume 650, Issue 1, pp 55–65 | Cite as

Population trends of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) in the UK: assessing the evidence for a widespread decline in response to climate change

  • I. J. Winfield
  • J. Hateley
  • J. M. Fletcher
  • J. B. James
  • C. W. Bean
  • P. Clabburn
CHARR

Abstract

The UK lies towards the southernmost distribution limit of the circumpolar Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), and native populations of high national conservation value occur in all four component countries. However, given the temperature requirements of this species and the already relatively mild UK climate, there is strong reason to expect a significant negative impact of climate change on local populations. Data were assembled from repeated Arctic charr population assessments using combinations of hydroacoustics, gill netting, entrapment records and fisheries catches at five Scottish populations, five English populations and one Welsh population. These data were then used to test the hypotheses that there has been a widespread decline of Arctic charr in the UK and that it can be attributed at least in part to climate change. Ten of the 11 studied populations exhibited significant 1990-onwards declines in abundance, while only the most northerly population showed a significant increase. Overall, there was a significant positive relationship between the observed population decline ranking and a vulnerability to climate change ranking based on water body latitude, altitude and mean depth. These observations support the hypothesis that this species has suffered a recent and widespread decline in the UK, and although additional factors are undoubtedly also involved in some specific cases, climate change is a significant factor.

Keywords

Long-term monitoring Hydroacoustics Gill netting Fishery catch-per-unit-effort Entrapment Conservation 

References

  1. Adams, C. E., 1995. The Arctic Charr Salvelinus alpinus population of Loch Girlsta, Shetland. Unpublished Report, Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh, UK.Google Scholar
  2. Adams, C. E., C. W. Bean, D. Fraser & P. S. Maitland, 2007. Conservation and management of the Arctic charr: a forward view. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 16: 2–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbour, S. E. & S. M. Einarsson, 1987. Ageing and growth of charr, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), from three habitat types in Scotland. Aquaculture and Fisheries Management 18: 63–72.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, E. A. R. & D. B. C. Scott, 1994. Life histories of the powan, Coregonus lavaretus (L.) (Salmonidae, Coregoninae) of Loch Lomond and Loch Eck. Hydrobiologia 290: 121–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clabburn, P. & R. Davies, 2008. Summary of the results of a hydroacoustic survey of Llyn Padarn during August 2007. Unpublished Report, Report Ref. FAT/TR/08/01, Environment Agency Wales, Cardiff, UK.Google Scholar
  6. Dempson, J. B., M. Shears, G. Furey & M. Bloom, 2008. Resilience and stability of north Labrador Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, subject to exploitation and environmental variability. Environmental Biology of Fishes 83: 57–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elliott, J. M., 1990. The need for long-term investigations in ecology and the contribution of the Freshwater Biological Association. Freshwater Biology 23: 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Elliott, J. M. & J. M. Fletcher, 2001. A comparison of three methods for assessing the abundance of Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, in Windermere (northwest England). Fisheries Research 53: 39–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Elliott, J. M., J. M. Fletcher, J. A. Elliott, P. R. Cubby & E. Baroudy, 1996. Changes in the population density of pelagic salmonids in relation to changes in lake enrichment in Windermere (northwest England). Ecology of Freshwater Fish 5: 153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Graham, C. T. & C. Harrod, 2009. Implications of climate change for the fishes of the British Isles. Journal of Fish Biology 74: 1143–1205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gurevitch, J., P. S. Curtis & M. H. Jones, 2001. Meta-analysis in ecology. Advances in Ecological Research 32: 199–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hateley, J., 2008. Fisheries hydroacoustic survey of Ennerdale Water 15th October 2008. Unpublished Report, Environment Agency, Warrington, UK.Google Scholar
  13. Haugen, T. O., I. J. Winfield, L. A. Vøllestad, J. M. Fletcher, J. B. James & N. Chr. Stenseth, 2006. The ideal free pike: 50 years of fitness-maximizing dispersal in Windermere. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 273: 2917–2924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones, I. D., I. J. Winfield & F. Carse, 2008. Assessment of long-term changes in habitat availability for Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) in a temperate lake using oxygen profiles and hydroacoustic surveys. Freshwater Biology 53: 393–402.Google Scholar
  15. Klemetsen, A., P.-A. Amundsen, P. E. Grotnes, R. Knudsen, R. Kristoffersen & M.-A. Svenning, 2002. Takvatn through 20 years: long-term effects of an experimental mass removal of Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, from a subarctic lake. Environmental Biology of Fishes 64: 39–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Love, R. H., 1971. Dorsal-aspect target strength of an individual fish. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 49: 816–823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Maitland, P. S., R. B. Greer, R. N. Campbell & G. F. Friend, 1984. The status and biology of Arctic Charr, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), in Scotland. In Johnson, L. & B. Burns (eds), Biology of the Arctic Charr: Proceedings of the Third International Charr Symposium. University of Manitoba Press, Winnipeg: 193–215.Google Scholar
  18. Maitland, P. S., L. May, D. H. Jones & C. R. Doughty, 1991. Ecology and conservation of Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), in Loch Doon, an acidifying loch in southwest Scotland. Biological Conservation 55: 167–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maitland, P. S., I. J. Winfield, I. D. McCarthy & F. Igoe, 2007. The status of Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus in Britain and Ireland. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 16: 6–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McCarthy, I. D., 2007. The Welsh Torgoch (Salvelinus alpinus): a short review of its distribution and ecology. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 16: 34–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pomeroy, P. P., 1991. A comparative assessment of temporal variation in diet of powan. Coregonus lavaretus (L.), from Loch Lomond and Loch Eck, Scotland, UK. Journal of Fish Biology 38: 457–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Reist, J. D., F. J. Wrona, T. D. Prowse, M. Power, J. B. Dempson, R. J. Beamish, J. R. King, T. J. Carmichael & C. D. Sawatzky, 2006. General effects of climate change on arctic fishes and fish populations. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 35: 370–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Winfield, I. J., J. M. Fletcher & P. R. Cubby, 1998. The impact on the whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus (L.)) of reservoir operations at Haweswater, UK. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie, Official Journal of the International Association for Theoretical and Applied Limnology, Special Issues: Ergebnisse der Limnologie 50: 185–195.Google Scholar
  24. Winfield, I. J., J. M. Fletcher, J. B. James & B. D. Bayliss, 2006. Fisheries on the edge in Cumbria, UK: where salmonids, cyprinids and climate change collide. Proceedings of the Institute of Fisheries Management Annual Conference 2005. Institute of Fisheries Management, Nottingham: 125–136.Google Scholar
  25. Winfield, I. J., J. M. Fletcher & J. B. James, 2007. Modelling the impacts of water level fluctuations and predation by cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) on the population dynamics of whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) in Haweswater, UK. Advances in Limnology 60: 277–284.Google Scholar
  26. Winfield, I. J., J. M. Fletcher & J. B. James, 2008. The Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) populations of Windermere, UK: population trends associated with eutrophication, climate change and increased abundance of roach (Rutilus rutilus). Environmental Biology of Fishes 83: 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Winfield, I. J., J. M. Fletcher, J. B. James & C. W. Bean, 2009. Assessment of fish populations in still waters using hydroacoustics and survey gill netting: experiences with Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) in the UK. Fisheries Research 96: 30–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. J. Winfield
    • 1
  • J. Hateley
    • 2
  • J. M. Fletcher
    • 1
  • J. B. James
    • 1
  • C. W. Bean
    • 3
  • P. Clabburn
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyLancaster Environment CentreLancasterUK
  2. 2.Environment AgencyRichard Fairclough HouseWarringtonUK
  3. 3.Scottish Natural HeritageClydebankUK
  4. 4.Environment Agency WalesCardiffWales, UK

Personalised recommendations