Where are Britain's fishes?
25 October 2004
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology press release
The first comprehensive national 'stocktake' of freshwater fishes in Britain is published this weekend in a fascinating hard-back book and a new internet-based database. The book includes a unique set of species distribution maps incorporating records dating from the 17th Century through to the present day.
Until the compilation of this data, freshwater fish were the only vertebrate group that did not have an up-to-date source of information on where different species can be found in British waters. This new record will be a valuable reference tool for people who manage fisheries or work in river conservation, and for other researchers and those with a general interest in their natural environment.
Cynthia Davies from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Dorset has been a leading force in compiling and editing the information. She said, "We undertook this project to fill an important gap in our knowledge of British biodiversity. Although many records existed there was no complete view of the types of freshwater fishes and how they are spread across the UK. It's been a long haul but we now have real baseline data on a national scale, which also provides a starting point for new research."
The database and book are the culmination of eight years' work involving scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Environment Agency, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and many other partners and contributors.
The book looks at the origins of the fish species we have in Britain, how they have been isolated from European populations and why they are important. It illustrates the physical appearance of fishes, their biology and behaviour, typical habitats and geographical locations. It also looks at how introduced species such as the Zander, or Pikeperch, which prey on other fishes can affect native populations; the impacts of pollution and how humans feature in the equation. The book features the work of 38 different authors, many of whom give expert accounts of individual fish species.
Cynthia Davies added, "The project was the brainchild of Paul Harding, who has been a tremendous influence in biological recording in this country. I'm thrilled that it has resulted in such a readable book."
Paul Harding is the former Head of the UK's Biological Records Centre at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Cambridgeshire.
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1. The book 'Freshwater Fishes in Britain - their species and distribution' is published by Harley Books ISBN 0 946589 76 3, price £25.
It is a joint project of the Environment Agency (EA) , the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC); written by a team of 38 authors and compiled and edited by Cynthia Davies (CEH), Jonathan Shelley (EA), Paul Harding (Biological Records Centre, CEH), Ian McLean (JNCC), Ross Gardiner (Fisheries Research Services) and Graeme Peirson (EA).
2. The book is based on wholly new information obtained from the Database Atlas of Freshwater Fish project managed by CEH. The freshwater fishes database is available via the National Biodiversity Network website.
3. The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is the UK's leading research organisation for terrestrial and freshwater science. Its research aims to improve our understanding of both the environment and the processes that underlie the Earth's support systems. It is one of the Natural Environment Research Council's research centres.
4. The Environment Agency is the leading public body protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. It's the Agency's job to make sure that air, land and water are looked after by everyone in today's society, so that tomorrow's generations inherit a cleaner, healthier world. Its work includes tackling flooding and pollution incidents, reducing industry's impacts on the environment, cleaning up rivers, coastal waters and contaminated land, and improving wildlife habitats. It also maintains, improves and develops fisheries.
5. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is the forum through which the three country nature conservation agencies English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) deliver their statutory responsibilities for Great Britain as a whole and internationally. The Committee consists of representatives of these agencies, as well as the Countryside Agency, independent members, and non-voting members appointed by the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland.
Press release: 34/04
- National Biodiversity Network
- Centre for Ecology & Hydrology website
- Environment Agency
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee
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