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Utilization of stomach content DNA to determine diet diversity in piscivorous fishes

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The objective of the study was to validate and apply DNA-based approaches to describe fish diets. Laboratory experiments were performed to determine the number of hours after ingestion that DNA could be reliably isolated from stomach content residues, particularly with small prey fishes (c. 1 cm, <0ยท75 g). Additionally, experiments were conducted at different temperatures to resolve temperature effects on digestion rate and DNA viability. The molecular protocol of cloning and sequencing was then applied to the analysis of stomach contents of wild fishes collected from the western basin of Lake Erie, Canada–U.S.A. The results showed that molecular techniques were more precise than traditional visual inspection and could provide insight into diet preferences for even highly digested prey that have lost all physical characteristics.

Keywords: Lake Erie; PCR; diet selectivity; digestion rate; predation; validation

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, N9B 3P4 Canada 2: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Glenora Fisheries Station, R. R. #4, 41 Hatchery Lane, Picton, Ontario, K0K 2T0 Canada 3: Aquatic Ecology Laboratory, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43212, U.S.A.

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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