Special studies are typically intended to develop information necessary to increase the proficiency and scientific output of existing long-term monitoring projects. Special studies are often developed to combat challenges that arise during species sampling, specimen preservation, and in implementing other study methodologies. Special studies may be initiated when limited information exists on specific life history traits of species that could influence management decisions. Special studies range from short term projects with narrow foci to large scale, long term projects that produce data used by multiple agencies.
The Diet and Condition Study lab was developed in 2004 for the Pelagic Organism Decline (POD) report to provide information on food habits. The lab now exists as a stand-alone group that evaluates the feeding habits of species of interest by identifying digested zooplankton and aquatic invertebrates found within the digestive tracts of specimens. Current projects include the POD Diet Study, Fall Low Salinity Habitat Diet Study, and the Preservation Effects Study. Staff also investigate prey organisms and regularly provide life history information on encountered species.
The Gear Efficiency Study is used to quantify the relative ability of various research nets to catch target species. The data shows what species of fish and sizes of fish each net is expected to retain, which is information necessary for the use of statistical models to estimate annual population mortality rate and abundance.