Ever since I accompanied my grandfather to a remote stream in the West of Ireland and caught my first trout I’ve been fascinated by fish and their habitats. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work in a range of pretty amazing locations, from a remote island in the Seychelles to the banks of the Limpopo river in Botswana and the Waterberg mountains of South Africa. Throughout this time I have continually developed my interest in ecology and conservation, with a strong focus on aquatic ecosystems and their inhabitants. This focus formed the basis of my MSc thesis “Local adaptation and reaction norms in neighbouring populations of Atlantic salmon”, and ultimately led to me beginning my current research on salmonid migration and survival in April 2016.
Currently, my research interests are primarily focused on the ecology and conservation of anadromous salmonids. My PhD is entitled ‘Investigation of the early migration of Atlantic salmon and Brown trout from the Burrishoole National Index River using PIT tag technology in freshwater and brackish areas’. This project is concerned with investigating the relationship between environmental factors, local adaptations, phenological plasticity, migratory behaviour and, ultimately, recruitment in Atlantic salmon and Brown trout. While PIT and acoustic telemetry will be used to look at fine scale migratory behaviour during the study period itself, 4 decades of historical biological and environmental data will be examined to look at broader long term trends. Through this approach it is intended that this project will explore the influence of environmental variables on the survival and behaviour of anadromous fish, thus facilitating predictions about the potential impacts of climate and land use change on such species. Ultimately, it is hoped that such knowledge will be of use in the management and conservation of these species.