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Variability in Energy Content of Key Forage Species in the North West Atlantic: Evidence for Changes in Ocean Productivity?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided $59,000 via the Partnership Fund over two years to Memorial University's Department of Ocean Sciences to support this research project by Dr. Christopher Parrish, an expert in techniques to measure the energy values in food webs. Environmental change is impacting key forage species in the Northwest Atlantic food web. Physical changes to the ocean are altering the nutrient supply to surface waters and affecting the quantity, location and timing of primary productivity. This research will advance understanding of mechanisms driving changes in productivity and therefore our ability to implement effective ecosystem management strategies.

The research has far-reaching significance, as several species being studied are keystone species in multiple temperate marine ecosystems. The knowledge will be incorporated into ecosystem initiatives carried out by MUN and DFO, including consumption estimates of top fish, mammal and seabird predators. The goal is to improve science advice, including Total Allowable Catch levels (TACs), and provide crucial inputs needed for ecosystem modeling. The data obtained in this study and institutional linkages developed during this project will also contribute to future collaborations on projects related to Fisheries Science, Climate Change Science, Species at Risk Science and Oceanography and Modelling. Results will be published.

Project Number: NFLD2016.15
Year(s): 2016, 2017
Partner: Memorial University of Newfoundland
Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Parrish
Eco-region: Atlantic

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