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Arctic Ecosystem Research in Alaska

We investigate how changing Arctic conditions affect Arctic fishes feeding, growth, and survival.

benthic trawl in Chukchi.jpg

We study Arctic ecosystems in Alaska to increase our knowledge of Arctic fishes and how they interact with their environment. We seek information on Arctic fish throughout their life cycle, from eggs and larvae to adults. We survey larvae, juveniles and adults to map their distribution and abundance. We collect information on their diets, and the distribution of their prey. We study their growth under controlled conditions in the lab and measure their body condition.

The overall goal of our work is to investigate how changing Arctic conditions (such as ocean warming and loss of sea ice) affect Arctic fishes feeding, growth, and survival. This information will support Ecosystem-Based Management in the Arctic.

Arctic Management Area Map

The Arctic Management Area: all marine waters in the U.S. EEZ of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas from 3 nautical miles offshore the coast of Alaska to 200 nautical miles offshore, north of Bering Strait (from Cape Prince of Wales to Cape Dezhneva) and westward to the 1990 U.S./Russia maritime boundary line and eastward to the U.S./Canada maritime boundary (https://www.npfmc.org/arctic-fishery-management/).

Arctic Ecosystem Field Research

In the field, we survey larval fishes and zooplankton prey with plankton nets of different mesh sizes designed to catch both small and large species. Juveniles and adults are surveyed with hydroacoustics, midwater nets and small bottom trawls.

bongo net in Chukchi.jpg

A “bongo” net being deployed to catch zooplankton and larval fish in the Chukchi Sea.

Arctic Ecosystem Studies in the Laboratory

We bring specimens back our Seattle lab for further study by the zooplankton and ichthyoplankton teams. Fish are also provided to the Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program in Newport Oregon for growth and survival experiments and to the Recruitment Energetics and Coastal Assessment Program in Juneau Alaska for analysis of body fat and overall condition. 

Partnerships in Arctic Ecosystem Research

Our research focuses on whole ecosystems through our participation in EcoFOCI (Ecosystems and Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations) in partnership with NOAA Research's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

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