A new database from UBC researchers is offering a window into the diets and lives of North Pacific salmonas they travel thousands of kilometres through different ecosystems and conditions. (Photo courtesy Kenny Regan)

A new database from UBC researchers is offering a window into the diets and lives of North Pacific salmonas they travel thousands of kilometres through different ecosystems and conditions. (Photo courtesy Kenny Regan)

Research tool offers glimpse into the deep-sea lives of salmon

Scientific database fills knowledge gaps of fishes’ diet

Due to the long journeys salmon undertake at sea, scientists studying the decline of B.C.’s populations have struggled to understand the late marine phase of their life cycle. But a new database from UBC researchers aims to change that by offering a window into the diets and lives of these fish as they travel thousands of kilometres through different ecosystems and conditions.

“It’s about fitting the puzzle pieces together to see what conditions these fish face in the open ocean, and answering questions like: what food is available for them? Is there competition for this food? How does this relate to environmental variability and salmon returns?” said Caroline Graham, a graduate of UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries’ master of science program.

Graham built the database as part of her Master’s thesis with researchers Brian Hunt and Evgeny Pakhomov. What’s called the open-access salmon diet database is part of a larger undertaking, Project Salmon Resilience, that aims to explore the impacts of fisheries and climate change on salmon populations.

READ MORE: “We can do better” – humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

Graham spent months combing through both peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed studies from countries across the North Pacific, translating the data into a standardized format that could be replicated for use in diet data collection for other fish species.

The work is already paying off.

“What we’re seeing is that different species of salmon have different dietary habits. These differences tell us a lot about not only the ocean conditions but also competitive interactions between species of salmon, and how this plays out on a spatial scale,” Graham said.

The team hopes the database will bring the research community closer together as scientists add their own findings.

“There are a lot of other species of fish out there,” Brian Hunt, assistant professor and UBC Hakai professor of oceanography said. “We’d like to expand this database to more species and liberate diet data that are lurking in the literature or with agencies to make it available to the community. Everyone talks about ecosystem-based management, and to do that you really need to understand the interactions between animals. Most of that happens through the food web, so we need to provide access to information. Hopefully this is a small step in that direction.”

READ MORE: B.C. group renews call for protection of newly discovered glass sponge reefs



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

ConservationSalmon

Just Posted

The river behind the ball field. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Pulled by the flow: river stirs up childhood memories

Gazette editor makes trek through Port Hardy wilderness to swim in the river

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read