Experts conduct survey on reintroduction of Burbot

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A team of scientists at the University of Southampton is examining the feasibility of reintroducing burbot (Lota lota) to British freshwaters and are conducting an online survey to seek feedback from members of the public.

Paul Kemp, Patrick Osborne and Tom Worthington seek to identify the causes of the extinction of burbot in the UK, with a mind to possibly reintroduce this species from Europe in the future.

The burbot, the only freshwater member of the cod family, was last caught in the UK in 1969, with this species acknowledged to be extinct in British waters.

Picture by Achim Schloeffel, Creative Commons.

According to Paul Kemp, pinion is divided over the reasons for the loss of this species. Climate change, over-fishing, pollution and habitat destruction have all been advanced as possible causes.

However, no research has been carried out to fully quantify the burbot's decline. This study will examine the role of changes in water temperature, habitat connectivity and river discharge in the burbot's extinction.

The study also involves an online questionnaire, in which the opinions to a possible reintroduction are sought. This questionnaire is available until 31 August and can be accessed here.

Paul Kemp adds, [w[e would like to encourage members of the public, particularly those who have a close relationship with our rivers and waterways, to take time to complete the survey, as opinions gathered will be a vital component of our research.