MEPS 521:217-235 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11102

Comparative methods for evaluating climate change impacts on the foraging ecology of Alaskan groundfish

Kirstin K. Holsman1,*, Kerim Aydin2

1University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, Alaska Fisheries Science Center NOAA Fisheries, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
2Alaska Fisheries Science Center NOAA Fisheries, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Climate change is expected to strongly impact Alaskan (USA) marine ecosystems, particularly those of the northern Bering Sea. To understand how climate change may alter predator demand for prey resources, we quantified the relationship between temperature and allometric rates of prey consumption for 3 major groundfish predators: walleye pollock Gadus chalcogrammus, Pacific cod Gadus macrocephalus, and arrowtooth flounder Atheresthes stomias. We contrasted regional patterns in foraging rates of more than 120000 fish collected annually from 1981 to 2011 from the eastern Bering Sea (EBS), Gulf of Alaska (GOA), and Aleutian Islands (AI). From field observations, we estimate that juveniles and adults of each species eat 1.15 to 3.94 and 0.84 to 3.13 times their body weight (BW) yr-1, respectively (i.e. 0.2 to 1.2% BW d-1), with arrowtooth in all 3 regions and adult EBS Pacific cod exhibiting the highest rates. If historical patterns signify future conditions, we estimate that a 2°C projected increase in water temperature would cause 26 and 14% increases in daily rations of adult EBS pollock and Pacific cod, respectively, whereas we predict a 37% decline in the daily rations of EBS arrowtooth. Similarly, we predict that GOA pollock, Pacific cod and arrowtooth rations would increase markedly (70, 34, and 65%, respectively). Although daily ration of AI arrowtooth may increase by 31%, our models predict 41 and 3% declines in AI pollock and Pacific cod rations, respectively. These results portend (sometimes counterintuitively) region- and species-specific shifts in Alaska groundfish predator foraging rates and trophodynamic interactions concomitant with climate change.


KEY WORDS: Climate change · Bering Sea · Alaska · Groundfish · Predator prey · Bioenergetics · Daily ration


Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material 
Cite this article as: Holsman KK, Aydin K (2015) Comparative methods for evaluating climate change impacts on the foraging ecology of Alaskan groundfish. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 521:217-235. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11102

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -