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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Inspector Eric Rochette is the new officer in charge of the Port Alberni RCMP. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP sees drop in property crime in late 2020

Clamp-down on prolific offenders seen as one reason

Port Alberni’s Caden Tremblay played with the North Island Major Bantam Silvertips during the 2019-2020 season. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
BCHL: Port Alberni’s Caden Tremblay suits up for hometown Bulldogs

North Island Silvertips’ captain hopes to play for hometown crowd

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Barb Kalugin, chair of the Community For Kids Port Alberni Chapter, is presented with a cheque for $832 for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation from Anita Sutherland, Director of Operations and Opportunities with McLean Mill National Historic Site. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
McLean Mill Christmas event raises more than $800 for BC Children’s Hospital

Festival of Trees fundraiser went virtual due to COVID-19

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

ICBC has seen savings on crash and injury claims in the COVID-19 pandemic, with traffic on B.C. roads reduced. (Penticton Western News)
ICBC opens online calculator for rate savings starting in May

Bypassing courts expected to save 20% on average

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
16% boom predicted for B.C. real estate sales in 2021: experts

Along with sales, the average price of homes is also predicted to rise, by nearly 8 percent

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer in West Kootenay in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Brad Windsor has been an advocate for years to get sidewalks installed along Milburn Drive in Colwood, but to no avail. He wants city council to commit to making Milburn a priority lane for sidewalk construction in the future. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash caught on B.C. home security camera

Angry residents say video highlights need for sidewalks in B.C. residential neighbourhood

An independent review is underway at the Royal BC Museum after employees called out systemic, individual racism at the institution. (Twitter/RBCM)
Royal BC Museum faces allegations of systemic racism, toxic work environment

Formal investigation, survey and training launched at museum

In this May 23, 2012, file photo, an approximately 2-year-old female cougar runs away from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife trap after being released northeast of Arlington, Wash. A cougar has attacked and severely mauled a man in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Mulligan/The Daily Herald via AP
Cougar euthanized in B.C. after severely mauling a man north of Vancouver

Whistler RCMP officers were first on the scene and shot and killed a cougar prowling nearby

Most Read