Event Title

DNA and Diet Analysis of Lontra canadensis in the Possession Sound Estuary and the Snohomish River

Presentation Abstract

During the 2012-2013 school year, foundational research on the diet of the Possession Sound river otter (Lontra canadensis) population was performed by students and faculty of the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA), a dual enrollment program at Everett Community College. This study included diet analysis of scat samples, visual surveys using motion-sensing game cameras, and tests for protozoa presence. Though no protozoa were found, the diet analysis showed the otter population to have a primarily marine crustacean diet. Because river otters are opportunistic feeders, this could be due to abundance of crustacean organisms like Mytilus edilus, coating pilings in the Everett Marina. The distribution of M. edilus is such that river otters have easy access to it at any tidal stage. The foundational study is now carried on by a small group of students, each with a different focus. This study focused on gathering information about river otter abundance and biodiversity though DNA and diet analysis of scat samples from communal “latrine sites.” Because river otters have been used as an indicator species for environmental issues such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, gaining an understanding of local populations and their health offers insight into ecosystem stability. This study aims to compare results from two latrine sites regularly studied in the Everett Marina to a new site established by this study three miles up the Snohomish River, at Langus Riverfront Park. The highest number of river otters observed on camera simultaneously has been seven. It is hypothesized that the same group of otters transit up and down river with the tidal cycle, resulting in the same groups of otters frequenting all the camera locations. Therefore, it is expected that these otters will show relatedness through DNA sequencing, and diet analysis between marina sites and Langus will have limited variation.

Session Title

Session S-05D: Marine Birds and Mammals of the Salish Sea: Identifying Patterns and Causes of Change - II

Conference Track

Species and Food Webs

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2014 : Seattle, Wash.)

Document Type

Event

Start Date

1-5-2014 5:00 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 6:30 PM

Location

Room 6C

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 1st, 5:00 PM May 1st, 6:30 PM

DNA and Diet Analysis of Lontra canadensis in the Possession Sound Estuary and the Snohomish River

Room 6C

During the 2012-2013 school year, foundational research on the diet of the Possession Sound river otter (Lontra canadensis) population was performed by students and faculty of the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA), a dual enrollment program at Everett Community College. This study included diet analysis of scat samples, visual surveys using motion-sensing game cameras, and tests for protozoa presence. Though no protozoa were found, the diet analysis showed the otter population to have a primarily marine crustacean diet. Because river otters are opportunistic feeders, this could be due to abundance of crustacean organisms like Mytilus edilus, coating pilings in the Everett Marina. The distribution of M. edilus is such that river otters have easy access to it at any tidal stage. The foundational study is now carried on by a small group of students, each with a different focus. This study focused on gathering information about river otter abundance and biodiversity though DNA and diet analysis of scat samples from communal “latrine sites.” Because river otters have been used as an indicator species for environmental issues such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, gaining an understanding of local populations and their health offers insight into ecosystem stability. This study aims to compare results from two latrine sites regularly studied in the Everett Marina to a new site established by this study three miles up the Snohomish River, at Langus Riverfront Park. The highest number of river otters observed on camera simultaneously has been seven. It is hypothesized that the same group of otters transit up and down river with the tidal cycle, resulting in the same groups of otters frequenting all the camera locations. Therefore, it is expected that these otters will show relatedness through DNA sequencing, and diet analysis between marina sites and Langus will have limited variation.