Shoal of fish


University of Hull project receives grant to protect declining species

With many of England’s native species under threat and in decline, Natural England has launched the ‘Species Recovery Programme Capital Grant Scheme’.

Multiple projects have been awarded grants totalling £14.5m, including a project at the University of Hull.

Dr Jamie Dodd and Dr Rachel Ainsworth, both from the University of Hull’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, have been granted £140,000 to help recover the population of sea lamprey and river lamprey in the River Trent.

Lamprey continues to be a threatened and declining species of fish due to habitat degradation, over-harvesting, pollution, other barriers and obstacles, and potentially climate change too.

The University of Hull project, named ‘Returning Lamprey To The River Trent’, aims to facilitate the conservation translocation of both species to the upper Trent catchments of the Derbyshire Derwent and the River Dove. This will be completed through bypassing barriers and increasing numbers at spawning grounds.

Funded by Natural England, Dr Jamie Dodd and Dr Rachel Ainsworth will be further supported by Trent Rivers Trust.

Dr Jamie Dodd said: “We are delighted to have been awarded funding from Natural England to help in the recovery of river and sea lamprey in the Trent catchment. The decline of this species has been linked with the presence of physical barriers such as weirs that hinder or block their upstream migration.

Ongoing work by both the Environment Agency and Trent Rivers Trust are helping to remediate these barriers in an effort to restore connectivity for migrating species.

Dr Jamie Dodd

man holding long fish
man holding eel

“Unlike salmon, lamprey do not return to their native river and instead are attracted by pheromones that are released by juveniles. By making sure as many adults as possible are reaching spawning habitats, we are one step closer to helping recover this population by ensuring future juvenile pheromones attract adults back into the catchment

“To confirm that the conservation translocation of these species has resulted in successful spawning, Hull University’s EvoHull group will be undertaking eDNA analysis. Led by Dr Graham Sellers, the team will collect water samples at multiple locations throughout the catchment, which is then processed to detect juvenile genetic material.

We will also be acoustically tracking a sub-sample to collect information on their migration within the river to learn more about their movements. The knowledge gained from this is essential in providing evidence for the best mitigation measures available for recovering this protected species in other UK rivers.

Dr Jamie Dodd

This new grant scheme focuses on declining species which are in need of help. To see other projects, read here.

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