This summer Dr. Gosselin, Dr. Boulding and six students and will be at BMSC to begin the newly funded research.
Check back for updates as the project progresses.
Summary of the Project:
Northern abalone were once a key member of coastal ecosystems and an important economic and cultural resource in western Canada. However, over-exploitation led to dramatic population declines and the closure of the fishery in 1990. Since that time, northern abalone populations have failed to recover. This is likely due in large part to extremely low adult densities which reduce reproductive rates. Because this once-important species may never recover on its own, it is vital to conduct restoration efforts by outplanting hatchery-reared animals to boost population sizes in the wild. Although such efforts are currently being conducted by the Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project (BHCAP), the efficacy of current rearing and outplanting strategies has not been rigorously tested.
The research project has two major goals:
1) optimize culture conditions prior to outplanting
2) improve outplanting strategies for rebuilding wild population.
Larval and juvenile abalone growth and survival during the culture phase will be tested over a range of environmentally-relevant temperature and pH conditions which can be readily achieved in practice. The success of past outplanting efforts will be assessed via non-lethal genetic identification of outplanted individuals in the wild. Further experimentation will determine the relative success of larval vs. juvenile outplanting, and the importance of habitat-modification and predator control in facilitating the survival of hatchery-raised animals in the wild. By using a combination of laboratory and field techniques, we will gain important insights into the biology of this species. These insights will then be used to most efficiently enhance population sizes, with immediate benefits in terms of jobs and training opportunities and long-term benefits with regards to the re-establishment of an important economic and cultural resource species.
The three supporting organizations will play a pivotal role in the success of this project. Each
supporting organization brings to the project crucialexpertise that will complement the strengths of the
applicants. These include expertise in the fields of abalone biology, rearing and handling techniques
(BHCAP), dive safety and abalone SCUBA surveymethods (BMSC), and B.C. abalone population
history, management, and genetics (DFO). Staff from each of these organizations will be directly
involved in the design and operations of the research work, and will be present at each of the team's
annual planning meetings in Bamfield.
broodstock | DNA analysis | hatchery | settlement | outplanting
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