Where do fish reside during different parts of the day and seasons? What is the preferred habitat of different species, and how do fish interact in time and space? What are behavioral patterns and differences among economically important, predator fish species such as pike, wels catfish and perch? How do fish react to changes in weather and seasonal conditions, and how are they expected to react under climate change? Understanding questions such as these, and the general use of space and time by animals, is one of crucial tasks of ecology. Until recently, detailed analyses that would provide answers and improve our knowledge on these topics were not possible, due to logistic and technical challenges such research would require.
With the recent advancements in technology and development of novel methods, fish spatial ecology and behaviour can be now studied by new automatic telemetry systems that provide unprecedented data with a very high spatiotemporal resolution, and show fish behaviour and distribution at a detailed level as never before. Over the past decade, research groups throughout Europe have collected large amount of data on fish movement in numerous European lakes. Using telemetry systems at extremely high spatial and temporal resolution, they have tagged and tracked thousands of individuals of various fish species, and collected in total nearly half a billion fish detections, combined with detailed geomorphological and environmental data. Collected data have been so far used mostly for single-lake and single-species studies.
Now, through the project funded by ALTER-Net (www.alter-net.info) and implemented by the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Hydrobiology, research groups involved in lake fish telemetry in Europe will be brought together for the first time, to initiate multi-lake research activities using combined fish telemetry datasets. Project participants represent some of the top researchers and research groups in the field of fish ecology and fisheries in Europe and globally, and the research will be additionally supported through participation of the research group of Steven Cooke from Carleton University, Canada and many other experts from the field. The group will collaborate on studies based on a joint telemetry dataset of European lakes, shared among the research groups. The dataset of such size and its uniqueness are an opportunity for cutting edge research, based on the use of interdisciplinary methods of data analyses, and to tackle novel research topics within the field of fish ecology, behaviour and management, in a way that was not possible so far.
Collaborating research groups will meet and plan joint research activities at annually organized workshops. First such workshop will be organized in České Budějovice, Czech Republic, during November 26-28 this year. Workshop will be attended by more than 30 participants from 11 countries, including many top researchers from the field. Beside planning joint research, exchanging knowledge, ideas, practical know-how and experience regarding the telemetry systems, participating research groups will discuss about further collaboration plans, projects and networking options, which would establish Lake Fish Telemetry Group as a long-lasting and growing initiative.