A research award has been granted to the Marine Institute’s Dr Joshka Kaufmann to investigate how quickly Atlantic salmon evolve to adapt to human-driven environmental change, reports Paul Scott.
The SFI-IRC Pathway programme, an initiative between Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, was awarded to Dr Kaufmann to conduct research on the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon in Ireland, and develop an independent track record in climate-biodiversity research.
Dr Ciaran Kelly, director of fisheries ecosystems advisory services of the Marine Institute, said the research will ‘identify vulnerabilities and ultimately offer strategies for optimal conservation, helping to balance sustainable aquaculture with the interactions between natural and aquaculture environments’.
The institute carries out environmental, fisheries and aquaculture surveys and monitoring to meet Ireland’s legal requirements. It also provides advice to government to help inform policy and sustainable development of marine resources.
Professor Philip McGinnity, Marine Institute principal investigator in fish population genetics, said that long-term studies with consistent data collection were rare, particularly in Ireland.
“As anadromous fish bridge freshwater and marine environments, they also provide an invaluable resource to understand the dynamic interconnections between land and sea and the role human actions such as climate change and overfishing,” he said.
Dr Kaufmann said he planned to use ‘next-generation high-throughput sequencing technologies and climate attribution to evaluate the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon’, with the aim of identifying ‘how selection on traits changed with time, and how this can impact the characteristics of salmon in the next decades’.
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