Fiona has a broad background in molecular ecology and the conservation of aquatic species. She completed a PhD at Durham University which explored the evolutionary and behavioural ecology of European lampreys focusing on anthropogenic impacts as well as conservation recommendations based on molecular data. This involved hydropower turbines and barriers to migration.

Later in her career, she became interested in APEM when she saw APEM’s work on deep-water monitoring of sea lamprey ammocoetes. Her love for lampreys extended further into her postdoctoral research where she developed a method using eDNA ‘snapshots’ which can provide Spatio-temporal data to identify species aggregations (e.g., spawning events) and spawning habitats in river catchments. This led Fiona to further research including the application of next-generating sequencing methods to explore lake-feeding sea lamprey populations in Ireland.

She has dedicated much of her recent career to the research and development of non-invasive monitoring methods such as eDNA. Having developed several eDNA assays for endangered freshwater species in Cote d’Ivoire (including the slender-snouted crocodile, dwarf crocodile and pygmy hippopotamus) and most recently worked on the EU-funded TechOceanS project, developing isothermal eDNA assays for several marine species and adapting them for use on an autonomous ecogenomic sensor.

Fiona Bracken

Fiona with the critically endangered slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) in Cote d’Ivoire.

As well as spending most of her career in academia, Fiona has experimented in many other aspects of ecology including spending several years working for Inland Fisheries Ireland on their habitats directive, river restoration and sea bass projects.

Fiona said:

I am very excited to join APEM Ireland which is rapidly expanding with lots of opportunities for growth. I’m looking forward to learning about consultancy and contributing to the development of APEM’s freshwater ecology expertise.

Dr Eliot Taylor, Divisional Director, APEM Ireland said of Fiona’s arrival:

Fiona really stood out from the first minute of the interview process as somebody with great skill, passion and enthusiasm, as well as with a really interesting and useful set of skills and experience. Her knowledge and understanding of key stone and crucially important protected freshwater fish species, such as lamprey, combined with knowledge and experience of new methods and approaches, such as eDNA, made her recruitment into APEM a no-brainer. Plus, she’s just a really lovely person and I knew straight off she’d be a great fit for my closely-knit team. I’m already enjoying working with her and watching and helping her develop rapidly into a really capable consultant to complement her ecological skills and knowledge.

To talk to one of our team in APEM Ireland, contact us.

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