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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 526:21-40 (2015)  -  DOI:

Faunal features of submarine canyons on the eastern Bering Sea slope

Michael F. Sigler1,*, Christopher N. Rooper2, Gerald R. Hoff2, Robert P. Stone1, Robert A. McConnaughey2, Thomas K. Wilderbuer2

1NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 17109 Point Lena Loop Road, Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA
2NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Some of the largest submarine canyons in the world incise the eastern Bering Sea shelf break. Here, we examine whether 5 large canyons (Bering, Pribilof, Zhemchug, Pervenets and Navarin) are faunally distinct features within the eastern Bering Sea. We compiled data from the eastern Bering Sea that included trawl survey data on fish and invertebrate distributions and observations of ocean conditions and benthic habitat. These data were analyzed using multivariate techniques to determine if the canyons are distinguishable from the adjacent continental slope. We found that the 5 canyons are not faunally distinct features of the eastern Bering Sea slope but that the major characteristics structuring fish and invertebrate communities were depth, latitude and sediment rather than submarine canyons. One notable feature of these canyons is that about one quarter of the coral habitat predicted for the eastern Bering Sea slope occurs in Pribilof Canyon, an area that comprises only ~10% of the total slope area. The predicted coral habitat also extends westward to the adjacent slope, indicating that this coral habitat concentration is not unique to Pribilof Canyon but rather that it is typical for a larger area (Pribilof Canyon and westward).

KEY WORDS: Eastern Bering Sea slope · Canyons · Habitat · Fish · Coral · Sponge

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Cite this article as: Sigler MF, Rooper CN, Hoff GR, Stone RP, McConnaughey RA, Wilderbuer TK (2015) Faunal features of submarine canyons on the eastern Bering Sea slope. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 526:21-40.

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