• Effects Of Glacial Discharge On Kelp Bed Organisms In An Alaskan Subarctic Estuary

      Sparkland, Tania Marie; Iken, Katrin; Braddock, Joan; Gradinger, Rolf; Himelbloom, Brian; Konar, Brenda; Whitledge, Terry (2011)
      Global climate warming is having large-scale, pronounced effects on the physical environment of Arctic and subarctic nearshore marine ecosystems, such as the widespread melting of glaciers. The purpose of this study was to determine how changing environmental conditions due to glacial melting affect subarctic kelp bed community structure and organism fitness. This study compared kelp bed community structure under disparate environmental conditions on a glacially-influenced and an oceanic shore in the same subarctic Alaskan estuary. Laboratory tests assessed the effects of varying salinity and irradiance on growth and physiological competence (as maximum quantum yield ( Fv/Fm)) of the dominant kelp, Saccharina latissima. Reciprocal in situ shore transplant studies examined seasonal growth, Fv/Fm, morphology and storage product levels (mannitol) in S. latissima. This study showed that kelp communities were distinctly different in these two nearshore regions within the same subarctic estuary. In addition, the kelp S. latissima from these two environments, exhibited phenotypic plasticity in terms of growth to varying levels of salinity and light availability, while both populations maintained high physiological competence year-round. However, this phenotypic plasticity was constrained within different seasonal growth patterns in the populations from the two shores, which likely are genetically fixed. This is the first time that phenotypic plasticity within a genetically fixed seasonal growth cycle has been described for macroalgae and especially for two populations in such close proximity. However, the ability to elicit plastic responses and seasonal adaptations in S. latissima may be limited and concerns remain about the long-term persistence of this and other important foundation species and nearshore habitats with continued climate change.
    • Population Structure And Behavior Of Pacific Halibut

      Seitz, Andrew C.; Norcross, Brenda (2006)
      Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is not managed on regional scales with separate population dynamics, but rather as a single, fully mixed population extending from California through the Bering Sea. However, some of the evidence from which this paradigm was established is questionable and I hypothesize that there are separate spawning populations of Pacific halibut in three regions, the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, because these regions are geographically separated by land masses and/or deep water passes that may prevent movement by adults. Pop-up Archival Transmitting (PAT) tags were attached to Pacific halibut in each region to examine their movement and behavior. First, geolocation by ambient light was able to discern basin-scale movements of demersal fishes in high latitudes and therefore this technique provided a feasible method for providing scientific inference on large-scale population structure in Pacific halibut. Second, because seasonally low ambient light levels and inhabitation of deep water (>200 m) restricted geolocation by light during winter, an alternative method, a minimum distance dispersal model, was developed for identifying migration pathways of demersal fish in the Gulf of Alaska based on daily maximum depth. Third, the PAT tags provided no evidence that Pacific halibut in the southeastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands moved among regions during the mid-winter spawning season, supporting my hypothesis of separate populations. Fourth, geographic landforms and discontinuities in the continental shelf appeared to limit the interchange of Pacific halibut among areas and possibly delineate the boundaries of potential populations in the Gulf of Alaska and eastern Bering Sea, with apparent smaller, localized populations along the Aleutian Islands. This possible population structure may be reinforced by regional behavioral variation in response to the environment. Future research should be directed at quantifying the exchange of individual fish among regions for possible local area management plans that more accurately reflect population structure.
    • Reproductive Potential Of Pacific Cod (Gadus Macrocephalus) In Alaska

      Ormseth, Olav Aleksander; Norcross, Brenda L. (2007)
      The reproductive potential of female fishes, which results from the number of eggs they produce and the quality of individual eggs, is a critical factor in fisheries biology. Reproductive potential is important to individuals because maternal fitness is the product of the number of offspring produced and how many offspring survive. The growth rate of populations and their capacity for supporting commercial fisheries also depend on the number of viable offspring that females produce. I studied the reproductive potential of female Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) in the North Pacific Ocean. Pacific cod is an important ecological and economic resource, yet much of its reproductive biology remains unexplored. I used several different approaches to investigate whether egg number or egg size are more important in determining reproductive potential, and to evaluate factors that influence reproduction. An analysis of life history variation among Pacific cod in Canada and Alaska demonstrated that despite differences in life history strategies, females from different populations had similar lifetime reproductive success (a proxy for individual fitness). I also collected Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska, eastern Bering Sea, and western Aleutian Islands from 2002 to 2005. Biochemical analyses of Pacific cod eggs revealed that Pacific cod produce low-energy eggs that are adapted for rapid development on the seafloor. Larger females produce eggs with less arachidonic acid (a fatty acid that has been linked to egg quality) than smaller females, suggesting that they may sacrifice egg quality to maintain fecundity. Determination of fecundity and egg size in 590 females from different areas and years revealed that maternal length and weight are excellent predictors of fecundity, but that variability in egg size is not related to the age or size of females, The greatest difference in reproductive potential among years and areas was reduced egg size in the eastern Bering Sea in 2003, which may have been due to changes in ocean temperature or prey availability that impacted the ability of females to store energy. These results suggest that female Pacific cod maximize their fitness through increased egg production, not egg quality, and that their reproductive success is under strong environmental control.
    • Thyroid hormone binding to brain nuclear extracts during smoltification in coho salmon

      Cheek, L. Michael (1991)
      Salmon complete a metamorphosis called smoltification prior to entering salt water. Increased thyroid activity, olfactory imprinting, and chemical and structural changes in the brain are known to occur at this time. This study was undertaken to determine if triiodothyronine (T$\sb3$) binding to brain nuclear extracts changes during smoltification. During this investigation serum thyroxine (T$\sb4$) concentrations increased three fold during smoltification coincident with changes in coloration and morphology and surged again during downstream migration to six times presmolt concentrations. Using ultrafiltration assays, homologous displacement experiments of KCl extracts of recovered brain cell nuclei indicated that maximal binding capacity increased during smoltification and down-stream migration. The increase in receptor concentration lagged the increase in serum thyroxine by one week. Dissociation constants increased during smolt transformation but declined abruptly during down-stream migration. However, dissociation constants did not change during smoltification if nuclear extracts had been previously incubated at room temperature to remove endogenous ligand. Dissociation rate increased significantly, coincident with the increase in receptor concentration measured by homologous displacement. The maximal probable percent occupancy of available receptors increased from 60% before to greater than 95% during the smolt transformation climax. These results provide evidence that thyroid hormone receptors participate in brain development and olfactory imprinting in smolting salmon.