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CR 71:33-45 (2016)  -  DOI:

Long-term Bering Sea environmental variability revealed by a centennial-length biochronology of Pacific ocean perch Sebastes alutus

Peter van der Sleen1, Matthew P. Dzaugis1, Christopher Gentry2, Wayne P. Hall1, Vicki Hamilton3, Thomas E. Helser4, Mary E. Matta4, Christopher A. Underwood5, Rachel Zuercher6, Bryan A. Black1,*

1Marine Science Institute, University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas, TX 78373, USA
2Department of Geosciences, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN 37044, USA
3Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, TAS 7004, Australia
4Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management Division, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
5Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Platteville, WI 53818, USA
6Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The productivity and functioning of Bering Sea marine ecosystems are tightly coupled to decadal-scale environmental variability, as exemplified by the profound changes in community composition that followed the 1976-1977 shift from a cool to a warm climate regime. Longer-term ecosystem dynamics, including the extent to which this regime shift was exceptional in the context of the past century, remain poorly described due to a lack of multi-decadal biological time series. To explore the impact of decadal regime shifts on higher trophic levels, we applied dendrochronology (tree-ring science) techniques to the otolith growth-increment widths of Pacific ocean perch Sebastes alutus (POP) collected from the continental slope of the eastern Bering Sea. After crossdating, 2 chronology development techniques were applied: (1) a regional curve standardization (RCS) approach designed to retain as much low-frequency variability as possible, and (2) an individual-detrending approach that maximized interannual synchrony among samples. Both chronologies spanned the years 1919-2006 and were significantly (p < 0.001) and positively correlated with sea surface temperature (March-December). The RCS chronology showed a transition from relatively slow to fast growth after 1976-1977. In both chronologies, the highest observed growth values immediately followed the regime shift, suggesting that this event had a critical and lasting impact on growth of POP. This growth pulse was, however, not shared by a previously published yellowfin sole Limanda aspera chronology (1969-2006) from the eastern Bering Sea shelf, indicating species- or site-specific responses. Ultimately, these chronologies provide a long-term perspective and underscore the susceptibility of fish growth to extreme low-frequency events.

KEY WORDS: Otolith · Chronology · Growth increment · Bering Sea · Climate · Pacific ocean perch · Sebastes alutus

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Cite this article as: van der Sleen P, Dzaugis MP, Gentry C, Hall WP and others (2016) Long-term Bering Sea environmental variability revealed by a centennial-length biochronology of Pacific ocean perch Sebastes alutus. Clim Res 71:33-45.

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