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Pike In Irish Waters Have Changed Their Diet, New Research Indicates

30th August 2018
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Pike In Irish Waters Have Changed Their Diet, New Research Indicates

#Angling - Pike in Irish waters may have changed their diet preferences, according to a new report launched this week by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The report looks at new research carried out in 2016 on Lough Conn in Co Mayo and Lough Derravaragh in Co Westmeath and provides an insight into the dietary habits of pike.

Previous dietary research carried out in the 1960s and 1970s in Lough Derravaragh and Lough Sheelin (located across Westmeath, Meath and Cavan) indicated that pike preferred to eat brown trout and perch.

However, this latest research reveals that pike appear to have changed their prey preference and now predominately eat roach.

Researchers in Scotland and England have also found similar changes in pike diet occurring in Scotland (at Loch Lomond) and England (at Lake Windermere). It is thought the changes in diet are due to the invasion of roach in these waters.

The research examines whether pike and brown trout can co-exist in the same habitat. Using statistical models, it found that the species could live together within relatively large deep lakes with strong stream connectivity. However, in small, low-complex systems, pike introductions could potentially have a devastating impact on resident brown trout populations.

The practice of pike removal and the impact it has on brown trout stocks is also examined. The findings suggest that pike removal may only be effective in protecting brown trout populations in systems where trout are the only available prey, but may have little effect in systems where other prey, such as roach, is available.

“This research was initiated to answer some ongoing questions relating to the dietary preference of pike and the pike-brown trout interactions in lakes across Ireland,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne. “Previous studies in this area were carried out more than 50 years ago which is a long time within our changing lake systems.

“This research is important as it gives an insight into the behaviour of the pike species and provides updated information around their relationship with brown trout. The changing food web and altered preferences of predators in the water systems highlights the need for continued monitoring and updated data to inform effective management strategies.

“This research will now be considered alongside the many historic, socio-economic and management factors which all inform fisheries management and development work. Inland Fisheries Ireland uses the best available scientific information to underpin management decision making and advice.”

For further information visit www.fisheriesireland.ie/pikeresearch.

Published in Angling
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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