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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 158:205-216 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps158205

Harpacticoid copepods: potential link between inbound adult salmon and outbound juvenile salmon

Masami Fujiwara*, Raymond C. Highsmith

School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-7220, USA
*Present address: Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA. E-mail:

Stable isotope ratios (δ15N and δ13C) of estuarine organisms were measured monthly within 2 field seasons in Seldovia Bay, Alaska, USA, to assess the impact of salmon carcass decomposition on estuarine productivity. A hypothesized indirect link between adult and juvenile salmon, with estuarine harpacticoid copepods acting as an intermediary, was supported by the data. Data show an influence of nutrients derived from salmon carcasses on estuarine macroalgal primary production, as nitrogen stable isotope ratio values of Ulva sp., an estuarine macroalga, were elevated in late summer following the salmon run. The isotope data also indicate that harpacticoids depend on Ulva sp. and possibly its epiphytes. Stomach content data for chum salmon fry (Oncorhynchusketa) show that they depend primarily on harpacticoids. Therefore, there is a nutrient link between adult and juvenile chum salmon in Seldovia Bay. Because harpacticoid production in an estuary is thought to control survival of chum fry, the nutrient link may function as a positive feedback mechanism influencing population fluctuations.

Harpacticoid copepod · Salmon · Seagrass · Ulva · Estuary · Food web · Nutrients · Stable isotope

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