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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 455:257-267 (2012)  -  DOI:

Alternating temperature states influence walleye pollock early life stages in the southeastern Bering Sea

T. I. Smart1,3,*, J. T. Duffy-Anderson2, J. K. Horne1

1School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
2Recruitment Assessment and Conservation Engineering Division, Recruitment Processes Program, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
3Present address: Marine Resources Research Institute, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Charleston, South Carolina 29422, USA

ABSTRACT: Water temperatures in the southeastern Bering Sea influence the density of walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma early life stages, potentially influencing spatial distributions and the phenology of reproduction and development. We quantified stage-specific changes in spatial and temporal distributions under cold- and warm-water conditions using generalized additive models. Analyses showed that walleye pollock egg and yolksac larval spatial distributions are unaffected by temperature, suggesting that spawning locations are stable. Preflexion larvae, late larvae, and juveniles shift onto the shelf under warm conditions, similar to spatial shifts observed in distributions of sub-adults and adults. Temporal distributions were used to address the hypothesis that timing of the density peak at each stage is delayed under cold conditions. Differences in the timing of density peaks supported the hypothesis that the timing of spawning, hatching, larval development, and juvenile transition are temperature-dependent. The current analysis represents the best support available for the importance of temperature to walleye pollock in determining early life stage development and population trends in the eastern Bering Sea. Our data indicate that future changes in water temperatures could influence the early life stages of an ecologically dominant member of the Bering Sea community by changing phenology and habitat use in the first several months of life.

KEY WORDS: Theragra chalcogramma · Temperature · Distribution · Phenology · Bering Sea

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Cite this article as: Smart TI, Duffy-Andersons JT, Horne JK (2012) Alternating temperature states influence walleye pollock early life stages in the southeastern Bering Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 455:257-267.

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