Andrea (Dea) Chute
MSc Candidate, Canadian Rivers institute, Biology Department
Home town: Sudbury ON
BSc Guelph University
Supervisor: Dr. Allen Curry
Trophic ecology of juvenile Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, in a tundra watershed of northern Labrador, Canada.
Northern species such as Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) may be affected by a warming climate. Arctic char ecology has been studied in northern lakes and streams: however, young char that are wholly dependent on stream ecosystems have yet to be studied in relation to their role in Arctic stream food webs. The objective of this study is to characterize the function of young-of-year (YOY) and juvenile Arctic char in an Arctic stream ecosystem. I will use stable isotope analysis to assess trophic structure throughout the Torr Bay watershed in northern Labrador. I will examine char growth rates in various habitats and among age classes to determine if juvenile char trophic status changes spatially or temporally.
In 2008, I collected char at six sites by backpack electroshocking. I lethally sampled whole fish (YOY) and took tissue samples from larger fish which were released. I also collected benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI) and alga to generate the food web. In 2009, I will collect stomach contents and aging structures at the each site. Fish, invertebrate and alga samples will be analyzed for their Carbon and Nitrogen stable isotope signatures. Arctic char are economically and culturally important to northerners. Information about char ecology throughout all life stages is critical to conserving this species in the face of a changing climate.