Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling Stomach Content Analysis Procedures Manual
The Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling (REEM) Program’s laboratory is primarily dedicated to the task of collecting data on the stomach contents of Alaskan marine fishes. This laboratory is also commonly known as the Food Habits Lab or Trophic Interactions Lab. This Stomach Content Analysis Procedures Manual describes analysis methods, identification techniques, and data entry procedures to be used when processing stomach samples. A companion manual, the Chemical Handling and Sample Tracking Procedures Manual, covers general laboratory safety and the procedures for handling chemicals, tracking samples and other common laboratory tasks. Finalized versions of these manuals, as well as The Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Standard Operating Procedures for Hazardous Chemicals information and The On-Screen Form Manual, are available.
All samples being analyzed are contained in 5-gallon buckets of 70% ethanol; formalin is hazardous and must be neutralized before analysts can examine stomachs (see the Chemical Handling and Sample Tracking Procedures Manual). Gloves, safety glasses, and a lab coat are worn at all times in the wet lab, where samples are removed from the buckets and placed on dissecting trays for analysis at the lab stations. Forceps are used when removing a stomach sample from the cloth bag in which it is stored. The stomach, Specimen Label, and any loose prey items are carefully removed from the bag and placed on toweling in a dissection tray. Other fish parts may have also been preserved in the bag to be used for positive predator species identification. These parts (e.g. gill-rakers) are kept with the stomach sample for further examination. The cloth bags are washed so that they can be reused for future stomach collections.