• The response of juvenile coho and chinook salmon stocks to salmon spawner abundance: marine nutrients as drivers of productivity

      Joy, Philip J.; Wipfli, Mark S.; Adkison, Milo D.; McPhee, Megan V.; Stricker, Craig A.; Rinella, Danial J. (2019-08)
      Resource subsidies from spawning Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in the form of marine-derived nutrients (MDN) benefit juvenile salmonids while they rear in fresh water, but it remains unclear if the abundance of spawners in a watershed affects the productivity of salmon stocks that rear in those riverine systems. This dissertation aimed to provide a better understanding of these dynamics by evaluating whether the response of juvenile salmon to MDN is sufficient to enhance overall stock productivity. In Chapter 1, I examined correlative relationships in the abundance of Pink (O. gorbuscha) and Coho (O. kisutch) salmon and simulated spawner-recruit dynamics to determine if those correlations were produced by a Coho Salmon response to marine subsidies from Pink Salmon, a shared response to marine conditions, and/or autocorrelations in the returns of both species. Results demonstrated that observed correlative patterns most closely resembled simulated freshwater effects, providing evidence that marine subsidies from Pink Salmon influence Coho Salmon productivity. In Chapter 2, I examined the relationship between spawner abundance and MDN assimilation by juvenile Coho and Chinook (O. tshawytscha) salmon in the Unalakleet River watershed. Stable isotope analysis demonstrated that after salmon spawned, MDN assimilation by juvenile salmon in the fall was a function of adult Pink and Chinook salmon spawner abundance, regardless of the habitat occupied by rearing juveniles. However, by the following summer, high retention of MDN in complex habitat masked seasonality of MDN assimilation in sloughs and river sections with abundant lentic-lotic exchanges. As such, MDN assimilation in the summer (prior to arrival of spawners) bore only a faint relationship to spawner abundance and distribution from the previous year. In chapter 3 I examined the relationship between MDN assimilation (Chapter 2) and juvenile salmon growth, size, body condition, and abundance. Prior to salmon spawning, residual MDN from past years offered little advantage to juvenile salmon. However, after the arrival of spawning salmon, MDN enhanced juvenile salmon size, growth, and condition in fall and winter. The collective results from this dissertation thus provides compelling evidence that MDN from spawning Pink Salmon may enhance the productivity of Coho and Chinook salmon. Management agencies should explore modified spawner-recruit models that incorporate MDN relationships to determine if they more accurately describe population dynamics. Where they do, such models may be used to forecast salmon returns and possibly adjust escapement goals (the number of spawners desired on the spawing grounds) to improve maximum-sustained yields (MSY).
    • Retrospective Analysis Of Marine Biological Data From Port Valdez, Alaska: A Case Study In Long -Term Monitoring

      Blanchard, Arny L.; Fedev, Howard (2006)
      Efforts to understand anthropogenic effects within the Port Valdez study area provide a simple and adaptive model for developing and refining hypotheses to measure the structure of and detect, change in nearshore and benthic habitats. Drivers of change detected by this study are the 1964 Prince William Sound earthquake and the oil transportation and salmon aquaculture industries within the fjord. The study area is a glacial-outwash fjord characterized by strong seasonal and spatial environmental gradients due to glacial influences including seasonally low salinity, high suspended sediment loads, and subsequent high sedimentation rates. Direct and indirect effects from intolerance to low salinity are important in organizing intertidal communities as is habitat structure. Previously unrecognized subtle effects on subtidal fauna from anthropogenic stressors near the marine oil terminal in Port Valdez are identified. Demonstration of statistical methods (variogram estimation, repeated measures analysis of variance, and geostatistical modeling) for field studies with spatially and temporally correlated data should be useful to others seeking to establish new long-term studies or analyze previously collected, long-term field data. Investigation of the re-adjustment of benthic fauna from a large earthquake and ecosystem-level effects of salmon aquaculture are not readily available and this dissertation provides a reference point for any such future studies. Although re-adjustment from the large earthquake was a key process during the study period, salmon aquaculture appears to have a strong effect on the benthic ecosystem. The model of detecting change is simple and adaptive and provides inputs for larger models and scientific investigations in marine ecosystems. Broad questions are developed through a long-term study of an ecosystem. The hypotheses formulated are then evaluated and refined through retrospective analysis of long-term data and results can be used to refine larger models. This dissertation contributes rigorous, statistically bounded biological time series to regional monitoring programs by providing small-scale, ecological information necessary for larger models. As a result, the information provided in this dissertation should increase the accuracy of ecological models and aid in the management of marine resources.
    • Retrospective analysis on the effects of bottom trawl fishing in the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian islands

      Coon, Catherine (2006-05)
      Commercial bottom trawl fishing effort during 1990-2000 was summarized for the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands to determine spatial and temporal patterns of fishing effort. Attributes of the benthic community based on research bottom trawl surveys were compared between areas of high and low commercial bottom trawling effort. The total number of bottom trawl tows was estimated to be 133,326 for the Gulf of Alaska, and 47,483 for the Aleutian Islands. For the Gulf of Alaska, the 301-500 m depth range of the Kodiak area had the highest density of bottom trawl tows for the decade with 2.039 trawl tows/km². For the Aleutian Islands, the 101-200 m depth range of the eastern Aleutian area had the highest density of bottom trawls with 1.447 trawl tows/km² in an area of 7,909 km². Fish abundance, fish species richness, and invertebrate biomass differed significantly among locations but did not differ between the two levels of trawl effort. A significant interaction between trawl effort and location indicated that differences in biomass of fish species between levels of trawl effort depended on location. Species composition appeared to be more related to location than to levels of trawl effort.
    • A retrospective assessment of primary productivity on the Bering and Chukchi Sea shelves using stable isotope ratios in seabirds

      Abromaitis, Grace Elizabeth; Schell, Donald; Castellini, Michael; Springer, Alan (2000-12)
      Recent declines of marine mammal seabird populations in the Bering Sea have raised the question of whether the changes are caused by fishing pressure or a decrease in ecosystem carrying capacity. Stable carbon (¹³C⁾ and nitrogen (¹⁵N⁾ isotope ratios in Thick⁻billed Murre muscle and feathers were used as indicators of changing seasonal primary production. ¹³C values in phytoplankton vary directly with growth rates and are passed up the food web to consumers. Muscle and feather ¹³C values decreased over the period 1976-1998 suggesting a decline in Bering/Chukchi continental shelf primary production. Carbon isotope ratios in murres were correlated with bowhead whale baleen isotope ratios and to some climate indices. In contrast, ¹⁵N values in the birds showed no significant change indicating no concurrent shifts in trophic status.
    • Rising land falling fishery: the effects of isostatic rebound and rapid succession on east Alsek River sockeye salmon

      Faber, Derrek M.; Adkison, Milo; Soiseth, Chad; Smoker, William (2008-05)
      This thesis includes research conducted in the Dry Bay Preserve of Glacier Bay National Park in 2005 and 2006 for the U.S. National Park Service. The research mission was to determine the cause of collapse in the East Alsek commercial sockeye fishery. The focus of the study was to determine if the collapse was due to human caused events or if there was a broader ecological basis for the recent downturn in returning sockeye. The East Alsek had undergone a dramatic decline in returning sockeye in recent years and the changing quality and quantity of habitat was thought to be the culprit for this downturn. However, fishery records and other environmental variables were also examined in order to establish a retrospective association between reduced production, ambient environmental conditions, and commercial fishing. The research for this thesis was funded by the U.S. National Park Service under the request of the City and Borough of Yakutat.
    • River features associated with chum salmon spawning areas: a method to estimate habitat capacity

      O'Brien, John P. (2006-05)
      Diminishing returns of salmon and years of poor commercial and subsistence fishing in western Alaska are a cause for concern. Management tools which recognize the intricate life histories of salmon and incorporate environmental conditions at each particular life stage are needed. Toward that goal a study of spawning habitat for chum salmon Oncorhynchus keta was conducted from 2002 to 2005 on the Tuluksak River in western Alaska. Small-scale river features were measured during two summers of field work. Large-scale river features were identified using remote sensing. Principal components analysis (PCA) denoted an association between spawning sites and channel intersections, gravel bars, islands, and areas of accelerated channel change, forming the basis for a predictive habitat model. Two models were developed that combined them habitat assessment with chum salmon redd size and spatial requirements at three spawning densities. The first model, based on field observations in 2002 and 2003, estimated a greater spawning capacity than the second model, based on large-scale river features. Spawning capacity estimates from both models were consistent with historic escapement data and should be used as a starting point for further research. This study represents progress toward a management strategy that is sensitive to habitat-dependent production potential.
    • The role of stratification in the spring ice edge bloom in the Bering Sea: a numerical model

      Freed, Martin (1984-09)
      Marginal ice edge zones are unique frontal systems with air-ice-sea interfaces. Phytoplankton blooms which occur along the edge of some melting ice packs in the spring, appear to be related to melt water driven density stratification. In this thesis a numerical model of a marginal ice edge zone is constructed. The wind driven circulation and spring phytoplankton bloom at the Bering Sea ice edge are simulated as functions of air-ice-sea-biology interaction. It was found that as long as the ice was allowed to melt, blooms occur regardless of wind direction. However, because of the compactness dependent melt scheme invoked, the faster the ice advects out from the pack, the faster the water column stratifies. The speed and the area of the bloom depend on the rate and extent of stratification. The model data compare favorably with field data.
    • Satellite evidence of physical features and processes in the Bering Sea

      Paluszkiewicz, Theresa (1982-05)
      Satellite infrared imagery is used to study temporal and spatial relationships of physical features and processes in the Bering Sea. A two-year collection of enhanced infrared imagery reveals that the maximum extent of the ice corresponds with the location of the Bering Slope current. Sea surface temperature patterns visually correlate with the 50-m and 70-m bathymetric contours. Processes which establish fronts in these regions are possible explanations for this correlation. Warm surface water extending from the Gulf of Alaska, through the Aleutian passes into the Bering Sea, is found simultaneously with warm surface water and eddies along the shelf break. Spatial and temporal relationships of these patterns imply surface circulation in the Bering Sea basin with inflow of Gulf of Alaska water through the Aleutian passes, cyclonic flow in the basin, and flow along the shelf by the Bering Slope current. Several generating mechanisms for the eddies are proposed.
    • Saxitoxins: role of prokaryotes

      Baker, Tracie Renee (2001-05)
      Saxitoxins, the toxins associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), are synthesized by dinoflagellates, cyanobacteria, and possibly bacteria. The specific objectives of this study were to determine growth conditions that promote high and low levels of toxin accumulation in Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (cyanobacterium) and Pseudomonas stutzeri (bacterium). Putative saxitoxins of P. stutzeri identified by HPLC-FLD in this study, and previously by other laboratories, were determined to be 'imposters' based on their chemical and physical properties, suggesting that this bacterium may not synthesize PSP toxins. In the cyanobacterium, toxin production was enhanced under higher light intensities and temperatures. Toxin accumulation reached maximal levels when cellular nitrogen was from either (NO₃-+NH₄)-N or N₂-N, while urea-N drastically reduced toxin levels. These data will be used in future studies aimed at identifying the genes involved in saxitoxin synthesis via molecular technologies that rely upon expression of the 'saxitoxin genes' under different growth conditions.
    • Sea ice near-inertial response to atmospheric storms

      Stoudt, Chase A.; Simmons, Harper; Gradinger, Rolf; Johnson, Mark; Hibler, William (2015-05)
      A moored oceanographic array was deployed on the Beaufort Sea continental slope from August 2008-August 2009 to measure Arctic sea ice near-inertial motion in response to rapidly changing wind stress. Upward looking Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers detected sea ice and measured ice drift using a combination of bottom track and error velocity. An analysis of in-situ mooring data in conjunction with data from National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis suggest that many high and low pressure systems cross the Beaufort in winter, but not all of these create a near-inertial ice response. Two unusually strong low pressure systems that passed near the array in December 2008 and February/March 2009 were accompanied by elevated levels of near-inertial kinetic energy in the ice. The analysis suggests pressure systems which have a diameter to ground track velocity ratio close to 3/4 of the local inertial period can excite a large near-inertial response in the sea ice. It is conjectured that this results from the combined effect of resonance arising from similar intrinsic timescales of the storm and the local inertial period and from stresses that are able to overcome the damping of sea ice arising from ice-mechanics and damping in the ice-ocean boundary layer. Those systems whose intrinsic times scales do not approach resonance with the local inertial period did not excite a large near- inertial response in the sea ice. From an analysis of two storms in February 2009, and two in December 2008, it appears that wind stresses associated with previous low pressure systems preconditioned the ice pack, allowing for larger near-inertial response during subsequent events.
    • Seabird Habitat Use And Zooplankton Abundance And Biomass In Relation To Water Mass Properties In The Northern Gulf Of Alaska

      De Sousa, Leandra; Coyle, Kenneth; Weingartner, Thomas; Barry, Ronald; Springer, Alan; Jr., George Hunt (2011)
      Understanding of biological and physical mechanisms that control the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) ecosystem is of major importance to predicting the responses of bird and zooplankton communities to environmental changes in this region. I investigated seasonal (March-October) changes in seabird abundance in relation to changes in zooplankton biomass and water mass properties from 1998 to 2003. Oceanodroma furcata and Fratercula cirrhata were most abundant during the peak of the zooplankton production season (May-August). Overall abundance of seabirds did not follow seasonal changes in zooplankton biomass. Seabird abundance was low in the study area when compared to other regions in the GOA. Furthermore, low bird densities suggest that productivity in this study area is not high enough to sustain a significant seasonal increase in local seabird abundance. I further investigated the distribution and abundance of seabird foraging guilds across the neritic and oceanic domains in relation to water mass properties and zooplankton biomass during March and April. Overall zooplankton biomass increased from the inner shelf to the oceanic domain. Highest density of subsurface-foraging seabirds occurred in the middle shelf and surface-feeding seabirds were most abundant in the middle shelf and oceanic domain. Murre (Uria spp.) abundance was positively correlated with the biomass of Thysanoessa inermis, and Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) were associated with cephalopod paralarvae and Eucalanus bungii. Elevated biomass of Thysanoessa inermis in March and April may be an important factor influencing habitat choice of wintering murres in this region. Lastly, I investigated the inter-annual variation in the abundance of sixteen zooplankton taxa in relation to water mass properties during May from 1998 to 2009. Significant variations in temperature, salinity and zooplankton abundance were identified. Thysanoessa inermis and Calanus marshallae had increased abundances in years when there was a strong phytoplankton spring bloom preceded by anomalously cold winters. However, abundances of Pseudocalanus spp., Neocalanus plumchrus/Neocalanus flemingeri, Euphausia pacifica and Oithona spp. were not strongly affected by relatively higher mean water temperatures. The abundance of zooplankton in the northern GOA was highly influenced by advective processes.
    • Seabirds at sea in relation to oceanography

      Day, Robert Hugh (1992)
      This study investigated the macroscale distribution of seabirds in relation to oceanography in a neritic environment characterized by well-defined water masses (the northern Bering Sea) and an oceanic environment characterized by weaker differences between water masses (the northern North Pacific Ocean). In the northern Bering Sea, the total density (birds/km$\sp2)$ of all seabirds combined and densities and/or frequencies of occurrence of seven of nine species of seabirds that exhibited significant differences among water masses showed the strongest attraction to Anadyr Water. In general, attractions were second highest in Bering Shelf Water, third highest in Two-layered Water (Alaska Coastal Water overlying Bering Shelf Water), and lowest in Alaska Coastal Water. This pattern of seabird distributions reflected distributions of zooplankton biomass, which were highest in Anadyr Water and consisted of species that were large enough to be eaten directly by seabirds. Further, whereas copepods in Bering Shelf Water also are large, they are much smaller in Alaska Coastal Water and, thus, must pass through more trophic levels to fishes before the energy is directly accessible to seabirds. Consequently, zooplankton-based food webs dominated in Anadyr and Bering Shelf waters and fish-based food webs dominated in Two-layered and Alaska Coastal waters. In addition, seabirds concentrated near a strong, mesoscale thermal front between Bering Shelf and Alaska Coastal waters. In the northern North Pacific, assemblages of seabirds exhibited three main groupings, a "subarctic assemblage," a "transitional assemblage," and a "'subtropical/tropical assemblage." These assemblages matched those for zooplankton, squids, and fishes in the same vicinity, suggesting that there are geographically- and temporally-stable biological communities in the North Pacific that are associated with well-defined, persistent physical environments. The total density of all seabirds combined and densities and/or frequencies of occurrence of 13 of 16 species of seabirds that exhibited significant two-way ANOVAs exhibited primarily a water mass effect; only one species exhibited primarily a year effect, and two exhibited primarily an interaction (i.e., a change in habitat use between years).
    • Seasonal abundance and diversity of nearshore fishes around Steller sea lion haulouts of Kodiak Island

      Hegwer, Catherine L. (2003-12)
      Nearshore fishes around haulouts are potential prey for Steller sea lions, especially pups, as they learn to forage and supplement their milk diets during weaning. Visual surveys in July and November 2001, and March, May and July 2002 were used to quantify spatial and temporal variation in fish diversity and abundance around two Steller haulouts and two control sites. SCUBA divers sampled depths of 9, 15, 21, 27, and 33 m. Concurrent habitat surveys were used to quantify substrate, macroalga and benthic invertebrate cover. Steller haulout sites had fewer fish than control sites, but similar species richness and species composition at the 9, 15 and 21 m depths during the summer sampling periods. In winter, fish were fewer but more evenly distributed. Habitats were not significantly different between Steller haulouts and control sites. All sites had seasonal cover of canopy forming kelp, and overstory algal cover was heavy down to 21 m. At approximately 27 m the habitat changed abruptly from kelp-covered bedrock to bare gravel and shell hash. While nearshore fish are an important component of Steller diets, results from this study do not indicate that fish assemblages at haulouts are substantially different from other headland sites.
    • Seasonal and interannual patterns of larvaceans and pteropods in the coastal Gulf of Alaska, and their relationship to pink salmon survival

      Doubleday, Ayla; Hopcroft, Russell; Gradinger, Rolf; Coyle, Kenneth (2013-12)
      Larvacean (=appendicularians) and pteropod (Limacina helicina) composition and abundance were studied with physical variables each May and late summer across 11 years (2001 to 2011), along one transect that crosses the continental shelf of the subarctic Gulf of Alaska and five stations within Prince William Sound (PWS). Collection with 53-µm plankton nets allowed the identification of larvaceans to species: five occurred in the study area. Temperature was the driving variable in determining larvacean community composition, yielding pronounced differences between spring and late summer, while individual species were also affected differentially by salinity and chlorophyll-a concentration. During the spring Oikopleura labradoriensis and Fritillaria borealis were most abundant and present at all stations. Late summer had highest abundances of O. dioica at nearshore stations, while F. borealis dominated numerically at outer stations. The 53-µm plankton nets collected higher abundances of Oikopleura spp., Fritillaria spp., and L. helicina than coarser 150 and 505-µm plankton nets. Limacina helicina abundance had a significant interaction effect among years, seasons and station location. Limacina helicina abundance in nearby PWS explained 30% of the variability in pink salmon survival; however, no significant correlations existed with larvacean or L. helicina abundances from the Gulf of Alaska stations.
    • Seasonal distribution of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in relation to high-quality ephemeral prey species in southeastern Alaska

      Womble, Jamie Neil (2003-08)
      Energetic demands are high for sea lions during spring when females are pregnant and lactating and males are preparing for extended fasting during the breeding season. Therefore, I predicted that the distribution of sea lions in spring would be influenced by the distribution of spring-spawning aggregations of high-energy Pacific herring (Clupeapallasii) and eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus) in southeastern Alaska. Monthly aerial surveys at 23 Steller sea lions haul outs revealed that haulout use was seasonally dynamic. Some sea lion haulouts were only occupied during spring. Other haulouts exhibited pronounced increases in the number of sea lions during certain seasons. Sea lion haulouts with peak numbers of sea lions in spring were significantly closer to forage fish aggregations than haulouts with peak numbers of sea lions at other times of year. From March through May 2002, I used aerial surveys to monitor the number of Steller sea lions at spring spawning aggregations of Pacific herring and eulachon. The maximal numbers of sea lions observed were 949 at a eulachon-spawning site and 252 at a herring-spawning site. Seasonal pulses of high-energy food resources may be critical to the reproductive success of individual Steller sea lions.
    • The seasonal dynamics of coastal Arctic lagoons in Northwest Alaska

      Tibbles, Marguerite; Seitz, Andrew C.; Falke, Jeffrey A.; Prakash, Anupma; Robards, Martin D. (2018-12)
      Lagoons are zones of habitat transitions between freshwater and marine ecosystems, providing safe and productive feeding habitats for whitefishes in Northwest Alaska, important to subsistence users in the region. However, many important lagoon processes are not understood. Therefore, the goal of this thesis was to gain a baseline understanding of two important seasonal processes of lagoons in Northwest Alaska. First, I attempted to identify environmental processes correlated with Arctic lagoon breaching for three indicator lagoons that represent a range of environmental characteristics using generalized linear models (GLM) in an information theoretic approach and model averaging. Second, I developed a habitat suitability (HS) model to identify the range of physical conditions that whitefishes may experience if overwintering under ice of these lagoons during the Arctic winter, for the same three lagoons. The GLM model suggested that lagoon breaching day of year was slightly negatively related to day of year of river break-up, but other unconditional confidence intervals for the covariate parameters overlapped zero indicating considerable uncertainty in these estimates. Further data collection and monitoring in the region is needed to improve and verify lagoon breaching modelling results. The HS model indicated that lagoons have reduced suitability as whitefish habitat in winter due to loss of habitat due to the presence of bottomfast ice and a reduction of liquid water quality due to cold temperatures, high salinities and low dissolved oxygen levels. Importantly, small lagoons without freshwater inputs were potential sinks for fish populations. The results from this research will help the National Park Service and the Native Village of Kotzebue in a joint effort to understand and manage these important habitats that are critical for subsistence fisheries as the Arctic faces an uncertain future with climate change, oil spill threats, and increased coastal development.
    • Seasonal movement patterns and habitat occupancy of Kotzebue region inconnu

      Smith, Nicholas J.; Sutton, Trent; Seitz, Andrew; Zimmerman, Christian (2013-12)
      Inconnu Stenodus leucichthys are large, long-lived piscivorous whitefish harvested in subsistence and sport fisheries in Alaska. My study was conducted to describe the seasonal movements and habitat occupancy of inconnu in the Selawik and Kobuk River drainages, Alaska, from 2010 through 2012. Methods consisted of surgically implanting acoustic telemetry tags in 80 fish from both rivers in 2010 and 2011 (n = 320), and deploying a fixed array of 20 Vemco VR2W acoustic receiving stations affixed with archival tags throughout Selawik Lake and Hotham Inlet. Tagged inconnu detections revealed that Selawik and Kobuk River inconnu displayed a high degree of spatial and temporal overlap while co-located in the Hotham Inlet/Selawik Lake complex. During the winter period, tagged fish predominately occupied the northern end of Hotham Inlet. In the summer period, fish transitioned from the northern end of Hotham Inlet to Selawik Lake and also the southern end of Hotham Inlet. Average daily displacements for Selawik and Kobuk River inconnu ranged from 2,000 to 10,000 m/day. Water temperature and salinity occupancy ranged from -1.39 to 18.69°C and 0 to 31.3 psu, respectively. No stock-specific or temporal trends in temperature and salinity occupancy by inconnu from the Selawik and Kobuk rivers were detected during my study. In addition to providing a more complete account of the life history of inconnu, these results will aid managers in developing future management strategies.
    • Seasonal movements and habitat use of rainbow trout in the Susitna River basin, southcentral Alaska

      Fraley, Kevin Marshall; Falke, Jeffrey; McPhee, Megan; Prakash, Anupma (2015-12)
      Potamodromous Rainbow Trout are an important ecological and recreational resource in freshwater systems of Alaska, and increased human development, hydroelectric projects, declining Pacific salmon stocks, and climate change may threaten their populations. We used aerial and on-the-ground telemetry tracking, field-measured and remotely-sensed aquatic habitat characteristics, snorkel surveys, and resource selection and occupancy models to characterize seasonal movements and habitat use of adult Rainbow Trout (>400 mm FL) at multiple spatial and temporal scales across the large (31,221 km²) and complex Susitna River basin of southcentral Alaska during 2003-2004 and 2013-2014. We found that trout overwintered in mainstem habitats near tributary mouths from November to April. After ice-out in May, trout ascended tributaries up to 51 km to spawn, and afterward moved downstream to lower tributary reaches to intercept egg and flesh subsidies provided by spawning salmon in July and August. Trout transitioned back to mainstem overwintering habitats at the onset of autumn when salmon spawning activity waned. Fidelity to tributary of capture varied across seasons, but was high in three out of four drainages. Different habitat characteristics influenced Rainbow Trout habitat use during each season, including stream gradient and sinuosity in the winter, substrate suitability and sinuosity during spawning, mean annual flow during the pre-salmon feeding season, and Chinook salmon spawning potential after the arrival of adult salmon in freshwater. We found that during the ice-free feeding season trout responded to fine-scale (channel unit) characteristics rather than more coarse-scale (stream reach) variables. Weekly movements were significantly longer when spawning salmon were present compared to pre-arrival. We found no difference in movements and habitat use for a subset of fish for which sex was identified using genetic analysis. However, the observed sex ratio was heavily female-biased, which contrasts with what has been observed in other non-anadromous salmonid populations. As most trout undertake extensive movements within and among tributaries and make use of a variety of seasonal habitats to complete their life histories, it will be critical to take a broad and multiscale approach to their management in light of anticipated future land use and climate change.
    • Seasonal movements of arctic grayling in a small stream on the Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska

      Heim, Kurt C.; Wipfli, Mark; Seitz, Andrew; Falke, Jeffrey (2014-08)
      In watersheds of the Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) of Alaska, Arctic Grayling adopt a migratory life history strategy to persist in a landscape with long (~ 8 month), cold winters that cause shallow aquatic habitats to freeze solid. We investigated movement patterns of adult and juvenile Arctic Grayling in a shallow beaded stream (Crea Creek), a dominant headwater stream type on the ACP. From 2012–2013 Arctic Grayling (N = 1035) were tagged with passive integrated transponder tags and monitored using an array of stream-wide antennae. Migration into Crea Creek peaked immediately after ice break-up in the main channel of the study area. Fish caught within the stream in June were in relatively poor body condition compared to fish captured later in summer. In both years, fish entering the stream during high flow and colder temperatures swam farther upstream than those entering during low flow and warmer temperatures. Migration of adult fish out of the stream was most strongly correlated with decreasing stream discharge, whereas juvenile downstream migration occurred in two peaks and was negatively correlated to minimum stream temperature and discharge. Among juveniles, fish of larger size and higher body condition tended to emigrate earlier. These results indicate that the population level migratory response is strongly tied to seasonal changes in hydrology, though heterogeneity among individuals also influences the response to seasonal change. This work demonstrates the importance of environmental cues, and surface-water flow mediated connectivity during the open-water period, and provides information needed to identify susceptibilities of migratory fishes to climate change and petroleum development on the ACP.
    • Seasonal movements of northern pike in Minto Flats, Alaska

      Albert, Matthew L.; Sutton, Trent M.; Evenson, Matthew J.; Margraf, F. Joseph; Verbyla, David (2016-08)
      Northern pike (Esox lucius) is a large, long-lived piscivorous species that are harvested in sport and subsistence fisheries in Alaska. My study described the seasonal movements of northern pike that inhabit the Minto Lakes portion (Goldstream Creek drainage) of the Minto Flats wetland complex, Alaska, from May 2008 through January 2010. Very high frequency (VHF) radio tags (n = 220) were surgically implanted in northern pike in Minto Flats in May 2007, 2008, and 2009, and fish were relocated with fixed telemetry stations and aerial- and boat-based telemetry surveys. Radio-tagged northern pike displayed a distinct spring pre-spawning migration into the Minto Lakes study area, where they remained for the duration of the open-water season. A protracted out-migration occurred between late September and early December, with downstream movements peaking in November and October of 2008 and 2009, respectively. Radio-tagged fish present in the Minto Lakes study area during the open-water season overwintered exclusively in a 26-km reach of the Chatanika River from its confluence with Goldstream Creek upstream to the Murphy Dome Road access point. Daily movement rates were greatest during May and August. In addition to providing a better understanding of northern pike life history in Minto Flats, these results will aid managers and researchers by identifying critical habitats and providing information to better design future population assessment experiments.