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

Delta City Hall. (James Smith photo)
Harvie, Kruger to represent Delta on Metro Vancouver board

Delta reps to sit on 11 of 16 standing committees and task forces

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read