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Food glorious food?

Blog Post - Food glorious food?

Aquaculture of Atlantic salmon in Tasmania is currently expanding, with the potential for interactions with reef ecosystems a significant concern.

As reef ecosystems in Tasmania have broad conservation, social and economic values, there is a need for better understanding of how these systems may respond.

There are many ways intensive farming of fish can interact with the broader environment, with enhancement of nutrients from waste feed and faeces key amongst these. Waste feed and faeces can become an additional food source for wild animals, with population-level consequences.

Using a lipid biomarker approach, this project aims to determine whether aquaculture waste may supplement the diet of key mobile invertebrate species within reef ecosystems in south-east Tasmania.

Results will provide critical information on how these species may use current food resources and whether the addition of aquaculture-derived nutrients and organic carbon influences food web dynamics.

This data will help assess whether these keystone species are suitable “canaries” for assessment of overall reef ecosystem health, and addresses a key knowledge gap regarding the broader ecosystem level interactions of intensive fish farming.

This project make an important contribution to the conservation and management of reef ecosystems, as aquaculture continues to expand into the future.

Camille White (UTAS) assesses underwater populations of key invertebrate species on reefs adjacent to aquaculture


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