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Vendace - update

The following are brief summaries of some of the action that we and our partners have done since the Species Action Framework was launched. They're in chronological order, with the most recent updates at the top of the page.

 The review of the UKBAP Priority List and changes to the way that species action plans are delivered has had little impact on the workings of the original Vendace BAP Group. Collaboration continues between Scottish Natural Heritage, the Environment Agency external site , Glasgow University external site , The Fish Conservation Centre, Centre for Ecology  external site , Queens University Belfast , Marine Scotland external site and, at a local level, Natural England external site .

11 February 2013

The five-year SAF programme finished in March 2012. We held a conference in November 2012, and you can go to a microsite external site (we recommend you use Firefox etc. as your browser, rather than older versions of Internet Explorer) where you can access a podcast, powerpoint presentation and poster for this species which summarises the work done during the SAF. You will also find:

- Audio podcasts of all the talks

- Powerpoint presentations of all the talks

- A set of all the SAF posters displayed at the conference

- A link to a podcast of the BBC Radio 4 'Saving Species' programme recorded at the conference

In late 2013 we also hope to publish an electronic 'SAF Handbook', which will include a chapter on this species.

17 December 2009


Vendace have hit the headlines for both good and bad reasons. The good news was the confirmation that the Loch Skeen translocation was successful and that a full survey of the population using the SCM protocol designed for powan (another UK coregonid species), showed that the population density is high and that successful recruitment had taken place. Scottish Natural Heritage are, in partnership with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, currently developing a new monitoring protocol, similar to that currently used to carry out Site Condition Monitoring, for use with vendace.

The bad news came in two parts: the most serious of these was the confirmation, in 2008, that the vendace population at Bassenthwaite has been lost. The success of the Loch Skeen translocation - which was derived from Bassenthwaite stock - was the only positive that could be gleaned from this news. The second piece of bad news came in 2009, when a survey to assess the status of vendace in Daer Reservoir (a site that received fish from Derwentwater), suggested that this translocation had been unsuccessful.

Working with others

Selection of new sites

The establishment of only a single refuge population for each vendace of the populations from Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite is a risk because, as the Bassenthwaite example has shown, if the original donor population is lost, the refuge population may be the only site left - and may itself require the establishment of a safeguard population. In 2007 the loch database, used to select Loch Skeen and Daer Reservoir, was re-examined in order to select a new suite of sites to be used as potential translocation areas. These sites were assessed against International Union for the Conservation of Nature [IUCN] external site   and Joint Nature Conservation Committee [JNCC] guidelines for translocation external site . Black Esk Reservoir was found to be the most suitable site, with Loch Valley (a site recovering from acidification) were considered to be the most suitable Another site, Black Loch in Galloway Forest Park was considered to be suitable for the retention of adult fish, although a lack of spawning substrate makes it unlikely to be of long-term use. Permission to use these sites was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland external site (for Loch Valley and Black Loch) and Scottish Water external site (for Black Esk Reservoir). The availability and quality of spawning substrate in these lochs and in existing sites was assessed using a Remote Operated Vehicle - a miniature submersible which can, amongst a range of other capabilities, provide close-up views of substrate type.

Establishing new populations

An attempt was made to obtain egg material from vendace in Derwentwater in 2007/08. Weather conditions during the spawning period made fish capture difficult and so few eggs were obtained that it would have been unwise from a genetics perspective to use so few fish to establish a new population. These fish were subsequently put into Daer Reservoir - where Derwentwater fish had been placed in previous years. Since that date, no new attempts have been made to obtain broodstock for new translocation attempts - this is planned within the lifetime of the SAF programme.

Understanding vendace and whitefish (powan) genetics

Understanding the genetics of these two taxa, with regard to their biodiversity and taxonomy, is a critical prerequisite for determining their conservation status and for guiding the management of translocated and natural populations. Through the SAF programme, three multiplexed sets of loci for vendace Coregonus albula, encompassing 11 microsatellites, and two sets multiplexed sets of loci for whitefish ('powan') C. lavaretus, encompassing eight microsatellites, were developed and evaluated and useful restriction enzyme detectable variation was resolved in two mtDNA regions using published methods.

Genetic anises showed that Loch Skeen vendace are significantly divergent from those in Derwentwater. The range of allelic diversity in Loch Skeen fish, along with an effective population size which is estimated to be ~10 times higher that Derwentwater fish, suggests a large proportion of the genetic diversity of the Bassenthwaite stock has been conserved in the Loch Skeen population from which the latter derives. This infers that the methods used for the establishment of the Loch Skeen population were successful from a genetic perspective.

This work also showed that the evolutionary relationship of powan to gwyniad (the only Welsh population of 'powan' and both currently viewed as C. lavaretus) is closer than either is to vendace (C. albula). Genetic differences with respect to mtDNA and microsatellites are consistent with powan being a distinct evolutionary lineage from vendace.

Last updated on Tuesday 30th April 2013 at 09:52 AM. Click here to comment on this page