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HOW MUCH INFORMATION IS IN A FISH GUT? FINE SCALE IDENTIFICATION OF FISH GUT CONTENT ANALYSIS: A NEW METHOD EXAMINED

Gut content analysis has been used successfully for several decades, but the level of identification of gut contents can vary. Fine-grained identification of gut contents includes fish species or invertebrate genus, while broad-grained identification creates general taxonomic groups (e.g. “insects” or “algae”). We conducted a review of the literature to examine how frequently fine-grained identification was used in gut content analysis. Additionally, we used the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow (Hybognathus amarus) as a test organism to develop a method for analyzing gut contents with fine-grained identification of both algal and invertebrate taxa. We found that the way gut content analyses were reported in the literature are somewhat inconsistent, with different methodology and different levels of identification. The case study indicated that fine-grained level of identification did provide additional information about feeding preferences and was most useful for diatom taxa. The method we developed for fine-grained identification of both taxonomic groups was easily manageable. However, combining algal and invertebrate data was relatively rare in other studies.

Ayesha Burdett (Primary Presenter/Author), New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Ayesha.Burdett@state.nm.us;


Rebecca Bixby ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of New Mexico, bbixby@unm.edu;


Douglas Tave ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Interstate Stream Commission, Douglas.Tave@state.nm.us;


Louie Toya ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Interstate Stream Commission, Louie.Toya@state.nm.us;


Allison Hutson ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Interstate Stream Commission, Allison.Hutson@state.nm.us;