Connecting ecological dots: striped bass diets, DNA barcoding, stable isotopes and contaminants – Part 2 (of IT15410)

Striped bass, Morone saxatilis, is a popular anadromous fish caught along the Eastern Coast of North American. Striped bass invaded Labrador, NL in August 2017 and, during Part 1 of this study, were identified to feed on Atlantic salmon, cod, char and capelin; important fishes to NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC). The traditional method to identify stomach contents consists of examining stomach contents and morphologically identifying the species consumed. Unfortunately, due to digestion, the quality of stomach contents is highly variable making identification of species-specific components difficult. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) was used to screen for prey items and to quantify their relative amounts. Stable isotope analysis (SIA) provides a longer period (weeks to months) of diets based on trophic-level. We will employ SIA to obtain a longer-term picture of striped bass diets that reflect where striped bass may affect the food web in the region and potentially identify the unknown diet proportion and reveal candidate fish or invertebrate species to do further gastric DNA targeted testing. Contaminants can affect fish health and have obvious implications for human health. In Part 2, we will increase contaminants analysis to provide a better picture of fish health in Labrador.

Rachel Pomerleau
Faculty Supervisor: 
Trevor Avery
Nova Scotia
Partner University: