Trophic Interactions – who eats who?

Part of: Marine ecosystems management

An important aspect of ecosystem based fisheries management is the consideration of biological interactions between species, e.g. predator prey relationships. This transition from single stock to multispecies management acknowledges that the management and exploitation rates of single species should also account for these natural interactions. As such knowledge of marine food webs for development of multi species models is seen as crucial for the development of the ecosystem approach.

Who eats who?

To further our knowledge of predator prey interactions in the Irish Sea AFBI is undertaking a 3 year project to compile diet information on a wide range of fish species, including commercially important stocks.

Diet analysis is traditionally carried out by manual macro and microscopic examination of gut contents aiming to quantify the number and relative proportions of prey consumed.

As well as these more traditional methods, AFBI in partnership with QUB will develop and implement the use of a number of more advanced methodologies, specifically next generation sequencing (NGS) DNA barcoding, further underpinning our knowledge of Irish Sea food webs.