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RECA: Arctic

ABL Home
Recruitment, Energetics, & Coastal Assessment
Recruitment Energetics
Coastal Assessment:
Gulf of Alaska
Coastal Mapping
Program Activities:
Data Sets
Autonomous sampling vessel, Barrow, AK
Autonomous sampling vessel, Barrow, AK

The Arctic is a unique ecosystem and home to many species of fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Most of the Arctic is pristine, but all of it is vulnerable to increasing stress from shoreline development and changing environmental perturbations. Existing threats to the Arctic environment are loss of sea ice from climate change, ocean acidification, and increased demand for oil and gas exploration and development. In February 2008, oil companies bid nearly $2.7 billion dollars for drilling rights in the Chukchi Sea where an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are present. Arctic habitats such as lagoons, barrier islands, and river deltas are at the forefront of these changes and yet little is known about how fish utilize these areas.

  • Arctic Coastal Ecosystem Survey (ACES): The ACES program began during the summer of 2012 and will continue through the summer of 2014 to characterize spatial and temporal patterns in distribution, condition, energetics and prey preferences of nearshore fish. This program adopts a multi-faceted field and laboratory-based approach using shallowdraft and novel autonomous sampling vessels as well as analytical chemical and routine laboratory techniques, integrating acoustics, current measurements, routine beach seining in addition to energetic and life ecology techniques. Study sites in the Barrow area to coincide with the North Slope Borough’s SHELFZ (Shelf EcoLogy of Fish and Zooplankton) sampling effort and past sampling efforts.

    The objectives of this project are to:
    • Evaluate habitat-specific distribution and relative abundance of fishes and macro-zooplankton and epifauna associated with Arctic lagoons and nearshore habitats;
    • Quantify and contrast age structure and size of fishes associated with lagoon and nearshore habitats
    • Describe feeding preferences, energy content, and nutritional condition of the dominant organisms from both lagoon and nearshore habitats;
    • Examine the trophic ecology and the significance of marine or freshwater prey to the dominant fishes, and examine connectivity pathways between lagoon and nearshore habitats.

    Funding provided by NPRB, BOEM, and North Slope Borough. Collaborators include UAF, Florida International Univ., and North Slope Borough.

  • Early Marine Ecology of Juvenile Chinook Salmon on the Yukon Delta: Our staff are leading a study aimed at improving our understanding of juvenile salmon growth, condition, and use of Yukon River Delta habitats. This multi-agency study will augment existing data on the marine ecology of juvenile Chinook salmon in the northern Bering Sea by providing seasonal distribution, size, and condition information prior to their capture in eastern Bering shelf (BASIS) surveys.

    The objectives of this project are to:
    • Quantify and contrast catch rates and distribution of juvenile Chinook with historic sampling conducted in the mid-1980s in the Yukon Delta tributary, tidal channel, and delta front/prodelta habitats; and update juvenile life-history information on size and timing of marine entry.
    • Quantify and contrast fish communities in Yukon Delta tributary, tidal channel, and delta front/prodelta habitats and investigate prey consumption by potential juvenile salmon competitors and predators.
    • Describe temporal and spatial patterns in juvenile Chinook nutritional status to provide insight into habitat quality and the role of size and timing of marine entry to juvenile condition.

    Funding and collaborations for this study are: NPRB, ADF&G, Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, and NOAA Fisheries.

Related Links:

Ron Heintz - Arctic
Auke Bay Laboratories
(907) 789-6058

Kartharine Miller – Yukon Delta
Auke Bay Laboraories
(907) 789-6410

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