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Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling Program

Fish Stomach Collection and Lab Analysis

During the first quarter of 2011 Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling (REEM) Program staff analyzed the stomach contents of several species from the eastern Bering Sea, the Aleutian Islands, and the Gulf of Alaska regions. The contents of 2,831 stomach samples from 17 species were analyzed from the Bering Sea, 8 stomach samples from 7 species were analyzed from the Aleutian Islands, and 73 stomach samples from 7 species were analyzed from the Gulf of Alaska.

Detailed analysis, with high taxonomic resolution of prey types and enumeration of all prey items, was performed on several flatfish species for an essential fish habitat (EFH) project and on walleye pollock for the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP) project. Both of these projects incorporate independent information on the available prey community.

Fisheries observers returned stomach samples from 15 arrowtooth flounder from the eastern Bering Sea. In total, 14,605 records were added to the REEM food habits database.

By Troy Buckley, Geoff Lang, Mei-Sun Yang, and Richard Hibpshman

Ecosystem Modeling Meetings

The final meeting of the GLOBEC Pan-regional Synthesis project "End-to-end energy budgets in US-GLOBEC regions" was hosted by REEM Program researchers Sarah Gaichas and Kerim Aydin at the AFSC Headquarters in Seattle, 28 February-4 March 2011. This 3-year collaboration synthesized data and built ecosystem models to compare the characteristics of four regions studied by GLOBEC: the Gulf of Alaska, Georges Bank, the Northern California Current, and the Southern Ocean.

AFSC researchers Anne Hollowed and Bob Foy also collaborated with 20 other scientists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (Newport); U.S. Geological Survey; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Oregon State University; Western Washington University; Old Dominion University; and the Universities of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Alaska, South Florida, and Maine.

During this project, a new ecosystem model was built for the Southern Ocean, existing models were improved for the Northern California Current and Georges Bank, and a model of the Central Gulf of Alaska was developed based on the existing full Gulf of Alaska ecosystem model. Simple models were derived to address physical drivers and bottom-up forcing in each ecosystem, and more complex models were maintained for implementing dynamic scenarios.

At the meeting, the Central Gulf of Alaska model was finalized with all data updates and five dynamic scenarios were presented to collaborators. The scenarios were standardized across all ecosystems and included whale restoration (with and without fishing), no fishing, doubling jellyfish and halving jellyfish, and observing the ecosystem response to each. Model code and software developed at the AFSC will be used for similar dynamic runs incorporating uncertainty using the Southern Ocean and Northern California Current models.

Many publications resulting from this collaboration were outlined at the final meeting, with REEM Program scientists sharing primary responsibility for an overall ecosystem metrics comparison paper and a paper comparing ecosystem responses to standardized fishing scenarios.

REEM Program scientists Kerim Aydin, Troy Buckley, and Ivonne Ortiz presented research results at the North Pacific Research Board's Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP) Principal Investigators' meeting 21-25 March in Anchorage, Alaska. Results presented included preliminary simulations from the Forage Euphausiid Abundance in Space and Time (FEAST) model and results from diet analyses conducted during the program for determining functional responses for key fish predator/prey pairs.

By Sarah Gaichas and Kerim Aydin

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