Laboratory of Fish Ecology

The laboratory conducts research on ecosystem functioning in all Lithuanian water bodies: Baltic Sea, Curonian Lagoon, Kaunas Reservoir, lakes, ponds, as well as large and small rivers.

The main focus is put on the ecology of fish communities and individual species and assessment of the impacts of natural and anthropogenic factors on the structure of fish populations and communities, species diversity and stock status. The laboratory also undertakes research on the genetic diversity and production processes of indicator fish species.

Laboratory scientists investigate the impacts of industrial facilities, such as the Būtingė Oil Terminal, Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant, Kruonis Hydroelectric Power Plant, small hydroelectric power plants, and the ongoing development of the Klaipėda Port, on fish stocks and separate fish species and regularly conduct research on the population abundance of separate fish species and on fish communities in water bodies with intensive commercial and recreational fishing: Baltic Sea, Curonian Lagoon, the lower reaches of the Nemunas River, Kaunas Reservoir, as well as lakes and rivers. With the impact of various economic industries on aquatic ecosystems increasing, the scientific experts of the laboratory analyse the feasibility of using various measures to mitigate the impact, develop recovery plans for endangered species, establish programmes for the protection and restoration of fish stocks, and make recommendations for the sustainable exploitation of stocks. They also select indicator species of fish most sensitive to anthropogenic impacts to determine the ecological status of water bodies.

Using conventional and electronic tags, microchemical and stable isotope analyses of otoliths (fish ear bones) and behavioural experiments, the laboratory investigates the movement patterns of migratory (e.g. salmon, sea trout, eel) and rare (e.g. Atlantic sturgeon) fish species in rivers, in the Curonian Lagoon and in the Baltic Sea. Laboratory researchers monitors the changing status of the populations of fish and lamprey species designated as important by the European Community and investigate the ecology of invasive fish, the structure of their food webs, and their adverse impacts on the ecological functioning and ecosystem services of native species populations. Behavioural and physiological experiments in aquarium systems are conducted to  determine the biological effects of various environmental factors on fish growth, survival, and reproduction.

Laboratory scientists represent Lithuania in international expert working groups such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), as well as in national expert organisations and councils.