Lamprey diet and its impact on pollock and on incidental catch from groundfish fisheries

Project Description

This project will investigate the diet composition of Arctic lamprey populations in the Bering Sea to identify and better quantify trophic linkages between lampreys and commercially valued fish stocks. We will combine our findings with existing knowledge on lamprey abundance and distribution to assess the potential significance of the role of lamprey on Bering Sea ecosystems and, in particular, on walleye pollock, Pacific salmons, Pacific halibut and Pacific cod populations. Our proposed study will employ relatively novel DNA sequencing technology to directly identify prey species from the highly digested stomach contents found in lamprey intestinal tracts. Our methods will allow species-level identification of prey items recently consumed by captured specimens. Our approach presents a novel source of information on Arctic lamprey diets to complement and greatly extend existing knowledge of this aspect of lamprey biology. Previous efforts have relied on quantification of lamprey scars on surviving prey, which may yield diet estimates that are biased to detect particular prey-predator interactions in which the prey more readily survives the lamprey attack. In the long term, we expect our findings to inform the development of stable isotope based studies that will more precisely quantify lamprey ecosystem roles during the entire course of their multi-annual marine phase. While the primary focus of this study is the Arctic lamprey, we will pursue extensions of this work to include the Pacific lamprey based on sample availability.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

picture of Trent Sutton

Trent Sutton

Associate Dean of Academics
  • Recruitment dynamics of fishes
  • Fish habitat assessment
  • Population biology and ecology of fishes
  • Trophic ecology and food-web dynamics
(907) 474-7285
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picture of J. Andrés López

J. Andrés López

Associate Professor
  • Fish taxonomy and phylogenetics
  • Molecular phylogenetics and evolution
  • Phylogeography and population genetics of fishes
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Student Researchers

Katie Shink, Master's Degree Graduate Student, University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Fisheries Division
Annyssa Interrante, Undergraduate Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Department of Biology and Wildlife

Project Funding

Amount: $5,000
Start Date: 2015-01-00 End Date: 2016-12-00

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