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HAMC: Nutritional Ecology

ABL Home
Habitat Assessment & Marine Chemistry
Nutritional Ecology:
Fatty Acids
Lipid Class
Proximate Composition
Division Activities:
Data Sets
A landscape filled with mating sea lions
A productive hotspot in Unimak Pass.

Research at the Nutritional Ecology Laboratory applies methods of analytical biochemistry to understand the structure and function of marine food webs. Our studies assess factors underlying energy allocation strategies and nutritional quality of forage species using lipid class and proximate analysis. We employ fatty acid analysis as a means of understanding patterns of energy flow in large marine ecosystems such as the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. Our analysis of energy phenology and trophic linkages is aimed at predicting the consequences of climate change on ecosystem functions.

Our work proceeds from the central idea that marine species need to grow rapidly and store energy if they are to survive periods of resource depletion. These needs are most acute for those organisms or life stages that depend directly on the annual production cycle, particularly at high latitudes. The resulting seasonal flux in energy content of species has a profound influence on their recruitment and nutritional value to their predators. This bioenergetic approach allows us to understand how temperature and forage quality influence the productivity of high-latitude marine ecosystems.

Key Publications to this Research

Heintz R. A., Vollenweider J. J. (2006) Seasonal variation in energy allocation strategies of walleye pollock. October-December 2005. Quarterly Report. National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratory, Juneau, Alaska.

Heintz R. A., Nelson B. D., Hudson J., Larsen M., Holland L., WipfliI M. (2004) Marine subsidies in freshwater: effects of salmon carcasses on lipid class and fatty acid composition of juvenile coho salmon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 133:559-567.

Vollenweider J. J., Womble J. N., Heintz R. A. (2006) Estimation of seasonal energy content of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) diet. In: Trites A. W., Atkinson S. K., DeMaster D. P., Fritz L. W., Gelatt T. S., Rea L. D., Wynne K. M. (eds) Sea lions of the world. Alaska Sea Grant Colllege Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, p 155-176

Ron Heintz
Auke Bay Laboratories
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries

Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute
17109 Pt Lena Loop Rd
Juneau AK 99801
(907) 789-6058

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