Professor Ian Fleming’s work on the care and preservation of wild fish populations has made him a respected researcher and has taken him around much of the northern hemisphere.
He is now also a visiting professor at the University of Gothenburg.
In terms of latitude, Ian Fleming has travelled relatively little. In terms of longitude, however, he has travelled considerably further, from St. John’s in Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada, across to Vancouver on the west coast, via Norway, back to North America and the USA, and now to Gothenburg for a visiting professorship. And he shares his travel patterns with a particular type of fish.
“I’ve always been interested in nature, in biology and ecology. And I find salmon absolutely fascinating. The way they move across large areas, and their migration patterns.”
THE CANADIAN PROFESSOR’S research relates to how animals – primarily fish – respond to changes in their environments. One of the main aims of his research is to investigate why individuals within a population can have completely different living patterns compared with other individuals within the same population, and how this can affect group dynamics.
“It can involve why certain individuals demonstrate different types of breeding behaviour, such as reaching sexual maturity faster than others, or why certain individuals choose to leave the population and move away while others don’t.”
Professor Fleming’s research also includes the preservation of wild fish populations that are threatened or vulnerable. Together with his colleagues, he has worked with salmon stocks on the Canadian Atlantic coast and with dusky groupers in the Mediterranean around Sicily.
He began his visiting professorship at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences in February this year, and will hold the position for the whole of 2015. He has previously worked with researchers from the University of Gothenburg on the Smoltpro project.
“The University of Gothenburg has a strong marine profile, and there’s a natural link between the research I’ve carried out at my home university and the work I’ll be doing here.”
PROFESSOR FLEMING’S RESEARCH addresses some of the major future challenges, such as how mankind will affect various fish stocks around the world, and how these stocks can respond to our influence.
“This could involve anything from fishing to climate changes or mankind disturbing their living environments, for example by introducing new species of fish into an environment.”
Together with researchers from the University of Gothenburg, he has just applied for a research grant for a project on how climate change is affecting fish in the Arctic, which he hopes they will be able to work on during the next few years.
SCANDINAVIA IS NOT new territory for him. He completed his postdoctoral studies at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, staying there for ten years in all. And the Nordic climate is ideally suited to his interests in outdoor activities and skiing. For example, he has completed the Vasaloppet ski race.
“My time wasn’t that impressive, but at least I survived it!” he laughs.
Occupation: Professor of Zoology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, Canada.
Family: Wife and two children
Latest news: Holder of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry’s inaugural Wallenberg Professorship for 2015.
Hobbies: Going on trips, kayaking, skiing and playing hockey. When I’m happiest: When I get to take my family to our cottage in Newfoundland to enjoy nature.