Dynamic Environment & Ecosystem Health Research

Chain pickerel in the Maritimes.
Group of people wearing lifejackets, waterproofs and hats in an aluminium boat pulling up a fish gill net from the lake.



Historical gold mine tailings
 - Ecology & biomonitoring
 - Remediation 

Invasive species
- Chinese mystery snails
   - Chain pickerel


Resources & Links

Lab news
Media & updates


Chain pickerel are not fussy eaters.

Note: If you are interested in potential applications of our research, joining our research group or would like to contribute to our data analyses, please email Dr. Linda Campbell.

Chain pickerel (Esox niger) is a widely introduced fish species in Nova Scotia lakes. It is an aggressive ambush predator which will consume a wide variety of food ranging from dragonfly larvae to fish to frogs. Small mammals, birds and turtles have even been found in chain pickerel stomachs!  Chain pickerel is associated with significant declines in diverse fish and amphibian populations and will impact native sport fisheries.
A graph from Mitchell et al (2010) showing the number of lakes with chain pickerel since 1940s, increasing to over 100 lakes in 2010.

Our work looks how chain pickerel may be affecting contaminant transfer and vulnerable species in many lakes across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We are using stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon and mercury analyses to analyse food web structure connectivity and how chain pickerel may be affecting food webs. 

We are currently collaborating on several projects at those locations that focus on impacts of chain pickerel on vulnerable ecosystems and food webs.

DEEHR Resources
  • D Swinemar. B Knockwood & Linda Campbell (2020-2022) Interactive map of chain pickerel & smallmouth reports across the Maritimes. Link.

DEEHR Publications & theses

  • Forthcoming.  Watch this space!
External resources
  • Nova Scotia Invasive Species Council. Link.
  • Alien species in Nova Scotia. NS Government public communication document. Link.
  • NS Fisheries & Aquaculture AIS page with links to fishing regulations and tips for preventing spread. Link.
  • Report: "Impact of introduced chain pickerel (Esox niger) on lake fish communities in Nova Scotia, Canada" SC Mitchell, JE LeBlanc & AJ Heggelin. 2010. PDF document.
  • CBC article on chain pickerel in Kejimkujik National Park (2018, 2019). Link, Link.
  • CBC article on chain pickerel in the LeHave River system (2017, 2019).Link, Link.
  • Go Cape Breton article on chain pickerel in Blackett Lake (2018). Link.
  • Summary of the Yellow lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa) status. DFO Species at Risk. PDF Document.
  • COSEWIC 2013 Status Appraisal Summary on the Yellow Lampmussel Lampsilis cariosa in Canada. PDF Document.
  • COSEWIC 2008 Assessment and Update Status Report on the Rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) - Lake Utopia large-bodied and small-bodied populations in Canada. PDF Document.
  • Summary of Atlantic whitefish projects by Coastal Foundation. Link.

SELECTED MEDIA MENTIONS (for full list, go to this page.)

Researcher asks Lake Utopia anglers to fish for science. Rhythm Rathi for Saint John Telegraph-Journal (Sept 19, 2022). Erin Francheville: "The chain pickerel isn't native to Atlantic Canada, she said, and was first introduced into lakes in Nova Scotia in 1945." [Link]

Are invasive pickerel endangering rainbow smelt in Lake Utopia? Jennifer Sweet for CBC News NB & CBC Radio One NB (Sept 7, 2022): Erin Francheville: "We can't move forward with recovery efforts and management, without extensive evidence and a better understanding of why." [Link][Screenshot][Transcript to be uploaded]

Masters student at Saint Mary's University conducts study on Lake Utopia. Rose Murphy for Saint Croix Courier NB (Aug 26, 2022): Erin Francheville. "Chain pickerel can quite quickly become a top predator". [Link].

Panorama of a blue lake on a clear day, showing a boat landing road, with a small figure walking along the shoreline


- Chain pickerel
- Collaborations and projects.
- Readings & resources.

A row of freshly caught chain pickerel of different sizes on a blue plastic tarp
All images and content copyright (c) Linda Campbell and other members of Dynamic Environment & Ecosystem Health Research Group.