Spatiotemporal Variation of Arctic Nearshore Fish Communities in Barrow, AK

Kevin M Boswell1, Mark Bryce Barton1, Nathan P Lemoine2, Ron Heintz3, JJ Vollenweider3, Brenda Norcross4 and Leandra Sousa5, (1)Florida International University, Department of Biological Sciences, North Miami, FL, United States, (2)Colorado State University, Biology, Ft. Collins, CO, United States, (3)NOAA NMFS, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Juneau, AK, United States, (4)University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Marine Science, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (5)North Slope Borough, Wildlife Management, Barrow, AK, United States
Climate change, oil and gas development, and increased transportation opportunities associated with retreating sea ice cover are likely to affect the processes underlying community development. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of information that prohibits establishing a baseline from which to examine biological and ecological changes. To address these concerns, we developed an intensive field sampling program using weekly beach seining for the six weeks following land-fast ice break-up during the summers of 2013-2015 (183 beach seine hauls totaling 37,303 fish) in three distinct water masses near Pt. Barrow, Alaska to examine how fish communities develop in the Arctic nearshore. Preliminary analyses indicate that inter-annual variability in temperature and salinity influence species composition observed in late summer, but it is unclear which factors operate on smaller temporal scales. We applied multivariate variance partitioning to quantify variation in community structure on multiple spatial and temporal scales during the summer season and identified several physicochemical parameters as important spatiotemporal drivers in structuring nearshore fish communities. Understanding how these drivers affect nearshore communities on the seasonal scale is an integral step to predict how these ecologically important ecosystems may shift in the face of Arctic climate change and continued development.