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

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Vandals strike in Parksville, prowler lurks in Nanoose Bay

Oceanside RCMP receive 276 complaints in one-week period

The intersection of Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street, where a child was struck and injured in November 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
High-traffic Parksville intersection to get temporary 4-way stop

City staff to monitor effectiveness of traffic-calming measure at Despard and Moilliet

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Nanaimo flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

Most Read