March 28, 2023

Tracking fish movements: the major research led by Dr. Anna Sturrock

University of Essex aquatic ecologist Dr Anna Sturrock is leading a major research project to track fish movements and health, and to identify the critical habitats they need to survive.

The aim of the £1.7 million project will be to identify innovative solutions to support sustainable management of fisheries, both in rivers and the sea, which can inform future policy decision making for resource management.

Dr Sturrock, who has been studying and working in the field of marine and freshwater biology for almost 20 years, said: “It’s important that we continue to push science forward that improves the sustainability and productivity of fisheries at both a local and global level.”

This innovative project will develop and utilise cutting edge, cross-disciplinary approaches, involving a team of international collaborators, and will include a range of study species and ecosystems, including North Sea plaice, tropical tunas, Baltic cod, and UK, US and New Zealand salmon species.

By tracking fish movements, Dr Sturrock will be able to assessing their vulnerability to different stressors so that we can better protect wild stocks and predict future changes to global protein supply.

“Combining electronic tags with chemical tracers in the fish’s body gives us unique opportunities to learn how different species and life stages interact with their environment, and how they respond behaviourally and physiologically to stressors such as warming, pollution and hypoxia (low oxygen). Finally, we will forecast the impact of different global change scenarios on fisheries productivity and food security,” added Dr Sturrock.

“Fisheries stability is largely dictated by the survival (or not) of the youngest individuals, yet it’s these early life stages that we know the least about,” added Dr Sturrock. “Chemical tracers and biochronologies – my primary area of expertise – have an exciting (but largely unrealised) potential to allow us to look back in time and reveal how the behaviour and health of early life stages impact their lifetime success.”

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