Aaron Fisk knows all too well that we live in a fish-eat-fish world.
“My research focuses on how aquatic animals interact,” he says. “This includes which animals eat which animals, how animals compete for food and space, and where and when animals move and migrate.”
His research directly contributes to the conservation and preservation of fish populations in the Great Lakes and the Arctic, informing resource management decisions and policy. Health fish stocks contribute jobs and commercial revenue to the Canadian economy. As well, health fish stocks are part of healthy aquatic ecosystems, which give the public potable water, a clean environment, recreational opportunities and an overall higher quality of life.
Fisk is currently working with “acoustic telemetry”, which involves tagging fish and tracking their movement. This reveals things like their depth and temperature preferences at scales from seconds to years.
He has been working with a Canadian company called Vemco to develop new acoustic telemetry tags that can identify when a tagged fish has been consumed by another fish, in what is known as a “predation event.”
“Telemetry gives a detailed looked on the movement of fish and the fish never fail to do something we did not expect,” he said.
His work fits into a bigger picture, which is an attempt to better model the flow of energy and nutrients through food webs, quantitatively accounting for environmental and organismal variability.
“Such a model would allow us to better predict the impact of environmental changes on populations, communities and ecosystems,” he says. “Predictions like these are critical, given the increasing pressure placed on the world’s ecosystems from a growing human population.”