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New Study Reveals Pike Are Native To Ireland

16th October 2013
New Study Reveals Pike Are Native To Ireland

#NativeSpecies - Inland Fisheries Ireland says it welcomes the publication of an important scientific paper relating to one of Ireland’s key angling species – pike.

Long thought to have been introduced to Ireland in the last few hundred years, the new research shows that the colonisation history of pike (Esox lucius) is more complex, with an indication that they may have colonised naturally some thousands of years ago.

Computer modelling of genetic data has indicated that the species probably colonised Ireland in two waves. The first occurred approximately 8,000 years ago, close to the end of the Ice Age, and the second occurred approximately 1,000 years ago, with the Normans.

This provides for the first time evidence for natural colonisation of a freshwater fish to the island of Ireland.

Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd said he welcomed the findings, and commended "the excellent collaboration between UCD and Inland Fisheries Ireland, who have recently signed a MOU to support this type of ground-breaking research”.

Dr Cathal Gallagher, head of research and development at IFI, said: “These important results will influence IFI’s ongoing management strategy for this species.

"Further investigations, using new and developing genomic techniques, will be used to endorse these findings.”

Lead author Debbi Pedreschi added that “what was really intriguing was how the examination of genetic material allowed us to build a hypothesis, which was then found to fit extremely well into the historical and archaeological background.”

Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn, who was co-supervisor of the project, said: “Debbi’s results will challenge us to consider the future management of this species and marks a significant contribution of a young researcher in this area.”

Prof Stefano Mariani, now at the University of Salford, believes that this investigation embodies the nature of conservation biology.

“We should always question long-held assumptions, and examine the best available evidence," he said. "At this point, it would be irresponsible to ignore these strong patterns of pike diversity, but we are also keen to investigate this further and provide a more exhaustive picture."

The study was conducted in partnership with UCD's School of Biology & Environment Science, and with support from the Irish Federation of Pike Angling Club and the University of Salford, under the co-supervision of Prof Mariani. The paper will be available online on Friday 18 October.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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