Building on the development of genetic probes (or assays) to identify the presence of Atlantic salmon and brown trout DNA from a range of sources, such as running water or fish slime in the holds of pelagic vessels, the geneticists at University College Dublin had planned to examine the droppings of predatory birds for the presence of salmonid DNA this Spring.
Unfortunately, the field programme in Scotland had to be put on hold due to Coronavirus restrictions. However, the Covid-19 regulations in Ireland have allowed some limited fieldwork to continue and the researchers have been busy collecting scat samples from a range of salmonid predators along the River Boyne in County Meath. The samples will help refine the techniques being used to identify the species of predator involved and perhaps even find the genetic signature of individual predators. The analysis will also reveal the relative proportions of prey items present in the scat.
As soon as fieldwork is again possible in Scotland work will begin in collecting background samples from rivers in the Moray Firth area. This will be in preparation for a comprehensive sampling of predator scat during the Spring smolt run of 2021.
Read more about the Moray Firth Tracking Project here.
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