Destructive sampling is an integral part of many fish monitoring programs and fisheries surveys. Information can be gained on a wide variety of indicators, including, but not limited to: growth rates, reproduction, ageing, diet, nutritive and disease status. However, in general only a subset of samples will be taken from each fish that is removed, due to both the scope of the project, as well as budget and time limitations. Given the increasing ethical and sustainability concerns with the removal and killing of fish for research purposes, there is a need to maximise the value of each fish that is sampled, which can be achieved by standardising sampling strategies.
In this presentation I will discuss the response endpoints that can be measured in a variety of different fish tissues that we believe should be collected as standard in any sampling programs that require killing the fish. We currently collect samples from more than 10 different tissue types, and measure histological, morphological, physiological, biochemical (enzyme function, metabolite pathways) and genetic endpoints. Examples of this approach will be discussed in relation to various fish biomonitoring projects that our group have worked on over the last few years. Most of our research is conducted in the context of environmental monitoring for pollution assessment, but much of the information is equally as relevant for assessment of other ecological questions.