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Virginia Wesleyan College
1584 Wesleyan Drive
Norfolk , VA 23502
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Student Research Projects

Gut Morphology of Gizzard Shad Differs Based on the Lake of Origin

Student Annabel Lang
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Maynard Schaus
Department Biology
Course BIO 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


Planktivoruous, carnivorous, and omnivorous species among fish can display variable intestinal length which can be attributed to the fishes’ diets. Planktivorous fish are adapted to survive on the plankton in its environment. Carnivorous fish obtain their nutrients through the consumption of other organisms in its environment. Omnivorous species may incorporate a variety of foodstuffs in their diets, including detritus, phytoplankton and zooplankton. Easily-digestible foods such as zooplankton and protein contribute to a shorter intestinal length than a species utilizing an omnivorous diet to obtain nutrients. A longer intestinal length can be attributed to the consumption of lower-quality foodstuffs, such as detritus, in order to maximize nutrient uptake.
Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) are omnivorous filter-feeders capable of obtaining its nutrients from various food sources, including detritus, phytoplankton, and zooplankton. Gizzard shad captured from an undisclosed lake are dissected in order to obtain intestinal length and then compared to previous data in order to determine the lake of origin for this sample of fish.

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