BUG is delighted to have recently won an opportunity to work with Natural England to produce a river and sea lamprey strategy for the Dee and Humber estuaries.
Despite attempts to conduct lamprey population assessments in several river catchments in the past; it is widely acknowledged that fundamental knowledge gaps with regard to the life history of the larval life stages is currently constraining the development of robust monitoring programmes and population assessment techniques.
To date, population assessments for both river and sea lamprey has largely relied on monitoring the population density of the larval life stage by electric fishing in shallow silted margins; thought to be the preferred habitat of both species. However, recent research has indicated that, particularly for sea lamprey, deeper water habitats may be utilised (or, indeed, preferred). This is reflected in the paucity of sea lamprey larvae recorded during surveys undertaken within the existing Common Standards Monitoring framework.
This study will comprise a holistic review of existing and developing lamprey monitoring techniques, with a view to developing an overall strategy for sampling river and sea lamprey, and using these data to conduct condition assessments for both species.
Although primarily focussed on the Dee and Humber catchments; the outputs of this project will help to inform future sampling techniques, monitoring programmes and condition assessments for river and sea lamprey throughout the UK.