Icthyoplankton Assemblages and Distribution in the Chukchi Sea 2012-2013

Morgan Scott Busby, NOAA/NMFS/Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering Division, Seattle, WA, United States, Janet Duffy-Anderson, NOAA/NMFS/Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA, United States, Kathryn L. Mier, NOAA/NMFS/Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering, Seattle, WA, United States and Heather M. Tabisola, University of Washington, Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean, Seattle, WA, United States
There is significant interest in the effects of climate change on the Pacific arctic ecosystem, and in determining relationships between physical drivers and biological response. Ichthyoplankton surveys have become an integral component of ecosystem studies in the Pacific arctic over the past decade. In summer 2012 and 2013, large scale fisheries oceanographic surveys that included ichthyoplankton tows were conducted in the northern Bering and eastern Chukchi Seas as part of the Arctic Ecosystem Integrated Survey (Arctic Eis). Spatial and temporal analyses of fish larvae collected determined that yellowfin sole (Limanda aspera) was the most abundant larval fish caught followed by Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida). Cluster analyses showed L. aspera to be the dominant component of a southern, nearshore assemblage strongly associated with the northward moving Alaska Coastal Current (ACC) characterized by relatively warm-low salinity water. Boreogadus saida larvae dominated a more northern assemblage in close proximity to the ice edge and were more abundant in 2013 than 2012. Collections of pelagic fish eggs determined locations of spawning centers for L. aspera nearshore of the Seward Peninsula and Bering flounder (Hippoglossoides robustus) to the west and offshore from Point Barrow in 2012. Similar but less pronounced trends in egg distribution were observed in 2013. Larvae of the forage fish species capelin (Mallotus villosus) and Arctic sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus) were important assemblage components in 2012 and 2013 respectively. These patterns in the distribution of eggs and larvae are similar to those observed in other studies. The influence of circulation patterns on the distributions of fish in the Chukchi Sea is being investigated and will be discussed.