Skip to main content
School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences


Pink Salmon Invasion of the North Atlantic: Evaluation of Stable Isotopes as a method to detect potential impacts.

Pink Salmon specimen, copywrite Eva Thorstad

Biological invasions threaten global biodiversity and cause billions of Euros of damage to the European economy annually. The recent invasion of Northern Europe by Pacific pink salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha (Walbaum, 1792), has attracted much attention. Introduced into rivers of the White Sea by the USSR (later, as Russia) in the 1950s/1970s up to 2000s, a sudden dramatic increase in occurrence was observed around the North Atlantic in 2017. Negative impacts on native Atlantic salmon stocks are expected, including competition for food at sea, with economic implications for EU, UK, and EFTA member states.

The aim of the PinkSIES project is to determine the impact of pink salmon on native salmonids both at sea and in recently invaded rivers.
This will include determination of the distribution of pink salmon feeding grounds in the North Atlantic, prediction of how marine distributions may change in the future, and evaluation of the ecological role of pink salmon fry in recently-invaded rivers.

To achieve these aims, stable isotopes of material from pink salmon (otoliths, scale and muscle tissues) will be analysed, along with gut contents of juveniles and predators. Whilst stable isotopes have been used to study the distribution of salmon in the oceans, this is the first time that the approach will be used to assess the impact of an invasive fish species on native species at sea, as well as application of a novel otolith derived isotope proxy to establish their sensitivity to global warming.

Financed by the European Commission Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, PinkSIES represents a holistic study of this invading species: the results will expand our knowledge of the environmental biology of this invasive species in Europe and provide a scientific basis for decision-makers responsible for protecting the wild Atlantic salmon stocks. 

The project is carried out by research fellow – Michał Skóra, Ph.D. (University of Gdańsk) under the supervision of Prof. Iwan JonesDr Bryony Townhill (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science Centre (Cefas), and Prof. Gordon H. Copp (Cefas) with scientific and biological support of collaborators from seven countries.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101026030

  • Distribution of pink salmon feeding grounds in the NE Atlantic.
  • Extent of co-occurrence and potential competition between pink & Atlantic salmon in ocean waters.
  • The effect of climate warming on the future distribution of pink salmon in the NE Atlantic.
  • Interaction between pink salmon and native species during the freshwater phase.


Denmark Dr. Finn Sivebæk DTU logo 
Faroe Islands Dr. Kirstin Eliasen  
Germany  Dr. Marko Freese  
Greenland Julius Nielsen   Logo of collaborative partner
Iceland Dr. Gudni Gudbegsson  Marine and Freshwater Institute logo 
Ireland Dr Michael Millane
Norway  Prof. Eva Thorstad  
  Dr. Kjell Rong Utne   

Linda Söderberg

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences logo 
United Kingdom  Dr. Clive Trueman  
  Prof. Colin Bean   
  Dr. Rasmus Lauridsen




PinkSIES Project Map

Follow PinkSIES on Facebook

Michal Skora
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow
River Communities Group 
School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences 
Queen Mary University of London 
The River Lab, East Stoke, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 6BB, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7882 5845

Back to top