Prof Eric Verspoor

DirectorEric Verspoor
The Rivers and Lochs Institute

+44 (0)1463 273226

Inverness College UHI
Research Hub
1 Inverness Campus

Professor Verspoor is an internationally recognised researcher in the field of aquatic biodiversity science and management, with interests focused on fish and in particular on the Atlantic salmon and Arctic charr. He has over 35 years of research and advisory experience and, prior to joining the RLI, headed the Scottish Government fish genetics research group at the Freshwater Laboratory in Pitlochry.

His academic expertise is in ecological and population genetics and its application in sustainable resource management and conservation.  He has authored over 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers and reports and book chapters.  He was the lead editor and chapter contributor to the seminal book “Atlantic salmon: genetics, conservation and management”.  Though his work is focused on salmon and charr in Scotland, he has worked in collaboration with a wide network of international researchers on populations of these species in other northern hemisphere countries.  In Scotland, his work led to the establishment, in collaboration with the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts Scotland, of the FASMOP programme (Focusing Atlantic Salmon Management on Populations), the successful initiative to increase understanding of the structuring of Scottish salmon stocks into distinct breeding populations.  He also was a lead scientist in the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) sponsored and EU funded SALSEA-Merge project. This initiative used genetic methods to identify the region of origin of salmon caught at sea to increase understanding of the species marine ecology and the factors underlying stock declines.  He has served on numerous national and international biodiversity management committees and, most recently, undertook a scientific review for the Government of Canada of the potential for genetic impacts of introductions of European farm salmon into Newfoundland.

His current research is aimed at the development of a more complete understanding the true nature and extent of biodiversity in Scottish rivers and lochs and its role local maintaining healthy freshwater ecosystems.  It also is aimed at applying genetic and genomic analysis to the routine management and conservation of aquatic biodiversity such as fish stocks, to provide the knowledge on the basic biology and status of species and populations that to guide management, avoid and minimize negative impacts, and maximize sustainable economic returns at both the local and national level.

Qualifications and Accreditations

  • Batchelor of Science in Ecology (McGill University)
  • Master of Environmental Design in Natural Resource Management (University of Calgary)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Population Genetics (University of Nottingham)
  • Honorary Chair in Zoology (University of Aberdeen)

Papers in Preparation

Verspoor, E. Greer, R. and Knox, D. (in preparation). Integrated eco-genetic analysis of Loch Laidon, Scotland, reveals three cryptic sympatric brown trout (Salmo trutta) populations, including a unique distinct profundal benthic form. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

Verspoor, E. and Knox, D. (in preparation). Divergence and Trans-range Distribution of Basic European and North American Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) mtDNA lineages. PLoS One

Bradbury, I.R, Hamilton, L.C., Dempson, B.1, Robertson, M.J., Verspoor, E., Bourret, V., and Bernatchez, L. (in preparation). Transatlantic secondary contact in Atlantic salmon in the Northwest Atlantic, comparing microsatellites, a SNP array, and Restriction Site Associated DNA sequencing for the resolution of complex spatial structure. – target journal uncertain.

Curran, M., Kindness, R. and Verspoor, E. (in preparation). Recapture rates of Atlantic salmon in a Scottish Catch and Release Fishery.  Fisheries Management and Ecology.

Papers Submitted

Consuegra, S. , John, E., Verspoor, E. and García de Leániz, C. (submitted) Geographical patterns of selection acting on the mitochondrial genome of the Atlantic salmon. BMC Evol Biol

Gilbey, J. and Verspoor, E. (submitted) Individual-based modelling of the demographic impacts of genetic introgression of farmed Atlantic salmon into wild populations.  Aquatic Environment Interactions.

Jensen, AJ, Gilbey, J, Friedland. KD, McGinnity, P , Mork KA, Coughlan,  J, Cross tf, Einarsson, S, Ensing, D,  Erkinaro, J, Fiske, P,  Garcia de Leaniz, C,  Hansen, LP, Haugland, M Hindar, K, Holm, M, Holst, JC, Jacobsen, JA, Karlsson, S, Ó Maoléidigh, N, Nielsen, EE, Primmer, CR, Prodöhl, P, Stevens, JR, Thomas, K, Vähä, J-P, Verspoor, E, Wennevik, V and Whelan, K. (submitted). Stock-specific differences in post-smolt growth of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the Northeast Atlantic.  Proc. Royal Soc. B.

Gilbey, J., Coughlan, J., Wennevik, V, + 27 authors, and Eric Verspoor (submitted).  A microsatellite baseline for genetic stock identification of European Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.). Mol. Ecol. Resources

Selected Recent Papers - published

Verspoor, E. McGinnity, P., Bradbury, I. and Glebe, B. 2013. The Potential Direct and Indirect Genetic Consequences for Native Newfoundland Atlantic Salmon from Interbreeding with European-Origin Farm Escapes.  DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2013.

Cauwelier, E. Gilbey, J., Jones, C.S., Noble, L.R. and Verspoor, E. (2012). Asymmetrical viability in backcrosses between highly divergent populations of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): implications for conservation.  Conservation Genetics 13: 1665-1669.

Bourret, V., Kent, M.P., Hayes, B.J., Primmer, C.R., Vasemagi, A., Karlsson, S., Hindar, K., McGinnity, P., Verspoor, E., Bernatchez, L. & Lien, S. (2012). SNP-array reveals genome wide patterns associated with geographical and potential adaptive divergence across the natural range of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/mec.12003.

Mork, K. A., Gilbey, J., Hansen, L. P., Jensen, A. J., Jacobsen, J. A., Holm, M., Holst, J. C., Ó Maoiléidigh, N., Vikebø, F., McGinnity, P., Melle, W., Thomas, K., Verspoor, E., and Wennevik, V. (2012) Modelling the migration of post-smolt Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the Northeast Atlantic. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fss108.

Verspoor, E., Consuegra, S., Fridjonsson, O., Hjorleifsdottir, S., Knox, D., Olafsson, K., Tompsett, S., Wennevik, V. & Garcia de Leaniz, C. (2012) Regional mtDNA SNP differentiation in European Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): an assessment of potential utility for determination of natal origin. – ICES Journal of Marine Science doi:10.1093/icesjms/fss029.

Gurney W.S.C., Bacon, P.J., Speirs, D.C., McGinnity, P. and Verspoor, E.  (2011). Sea-age variation in maiden Atlantic salmon spawners: phenotypic plasticity or genetic polymorphism? Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 74:615-640.

Verspoor, E., Knox, D., Greer, R. & Hammar, J.  (2010). Mitochondrial DNA variation in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus L.) morphs from Loch Rannoch, Scotland: evidence for allopatric and peripatric divergence.  Hydrobiologica 650: 117-131.

Selected Contract Reports

Coulson, M.W., Laughton, B., Shaw, B., Armstrong, A. and Verspoor, E. (2013). The use of genetic parentage analysis to assess hatchery contribution of Atlantic salmon on the River Spey.  RAFTS FASMOP report to Spey Research Board

Coulson, M.W., Burrows, A., Armstrong, A., Cauwelier, E., Stradmeyer, L., Gilbey, J., Sinclair, C. and Verspoor, E. (2013). An Overview of Population Genetic Structuring of Atlantic Salmon in Loch Lomond. Marine Scotland Science Reports 15/13.

Coulson, M.W., Marshall, S., Armstrong, A., Cauwelier, E., Stradmeyer, L., Gilbey, J., Sinclair, C. and Verspoor, E. (2013). An Overview of Population Genetic Structuring in West Sutherland Fisheries Trust. Marine Scotland Science Reports 13/13.

Verspoor, E. (2012). Scoping Study for Development of an Atlantic Salmon Stock Restoration Programme for the Garry tributary of the Ness River System.  Unpublished contract report for the Ness District Salmon Fisheries Board. 39pp.

Franklin, P. Slaski, R. and Verspoor, E. (2012) Impacts of open pend freshwater aquaculture production on wild fisheries.  Scottish Government Contract Report. ISBN: 9781782561125

Cauwelier, E., Knox, D, Marshall, S. and Verspoor, E. (2011) Genetic assessment of sea trout populations within west Sutherland: report on microsatellite analysis. Marine Scotland Science Report  10/11

Verspoor, E., Knox, D. and Marshall, S. (2009) Assessment of the Direct Genetic Impacts of Escaped Farm Salmon: a retrospective study of a wild Scottish stock.  ICES CM2009/


Verspoor, E., Stradmeyer, L & Nielsen, J.L. (eds). (2007) The Atlantic Salmon: Genetics, Conservation & Management. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. 500pp.

Nielsen, J., J. Dodson, K. Friedland, T. Hamon, N. Hughes, J. Musick and E. Verspoor (editors). 2007. Proceedings of the Fourth World Fisheries Congress: Reconciling Fisheries with Conservation. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 49, Bethesda, Maryland.

Selected Book Chapters

King, T.L., Verspoor, E., Spidle A. P., Gross, R., Phillips, R. B., Koljonen, M-L., Sanchez, J.A. & Morrison, C.L. (2007). Biodiversity and Population Structure. Chapter 5, In The Atlantic Salmon: Genetics, Conservation & Management (Verspoor, E., Stradmeyer, L & Nielsen, J.L., eds). Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. pp 117-166.

García de Leaniz, C., Fleming, I.A., Einum, S., Verspoor, E., Consuegra, S., Jordan, W.C., Aubin-Horth, N., Lajus, D. L., Villanueva, B., Ferguson, A., Youngson, A.F., & Quinn, T.P. (2007) Local Adaptation, Chapter 7, In The Atlantic Salmon: Genetics, Conservation & Management (Verspoor, E., Stradmeyer, L & Nielsen, J.L., eds). Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. pp 195-236.

Verspoor, E., García de Leaniz, C. & McGinnity, P.G. (2007).  Habitat Change. Chapter 13, In The Atlantic Salmon: Genetics, Conservation & Management (Verspoor, E., Stradmeyer, L & Nielsen, J.L., eds). Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. pp 399-424

Verspoor, E. & Villanueva, B. (2002) Genetic Management. Chapter IX in Handbook of Salmon Farming, Stead, S.A. & L. Laird, eds) Fishing News Books, Blackwell, Oxford.