• A Multiple Stable Isotope Study Of Steller Sea Lions And Bowhead Whales: Signals Of A Changing Northern Environment

      Dehart, Pieter Andrew Philip; Wooller, Matthew J. (2006)
      The North Pacific and Arctic marine realm is currently experiencing dramatic environmental changes as a result of global climate change. Stable isotope analysis of western arctic bowhead whales (WABW, Balaena mysticetus ) and Steller sea lions (SSL, Eumetopias jubatus) were conducted to examine the influence of these changes on life history characteristics (migration and foraging) of these marine mammals. WABW baleen plates were analyzed for their stable oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition (delta 18O and deltaD) and were compared to the delta18O and deltaD in water and zooplankton prey along their seasonal migratory route. The delta18O and deltaD varied along the baleen (8 to 18�; -180 to -80�, respectively) and corresponded to stable isotopic differences in zooplankton from the winter (Bering Sea) and summer (eastern Beaufort Sea) habitats of WABW. Baleen delta18O and deltaD confirmed the seasonal annual migration of WABW and were subsequently compared to historical sea ice concentrations (SIC). This illustrated that WABW migration patterns appeared to have altered concomitant with changes in SIC. Years with a higher SIC (colder climate regimes) correlated with the largest difference in deltaD between winter and summer in WABW baleen during the period from 1972 to 1988. For a similar time period (1955 to 2000), the feeding ecology of SSL was also examined by analyzing the stable carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions (delta13C and delta 15N, respectively) of archived SSL bone and tooth collagen. Both delta 15N and delta13C varied greatly with location and sample year (14.6 to 20.5�; - 16.7 to -11.8�, respectively), with a significant change in delta13C observed around the 1976 regime shift. Bottom-up processes may have limited growth of SSL populations throughout this region over time, with animals focusing their foraging on offshore regions to mitigate this environmental change. Stable isotope analyses of historical samples of WABW (baleen) and SSL (bone and tooth collagen) both illustrated that recent environmental changes influenced the ecology (migration and feeding) of these marine mammals in the recent past.
    • Adaptations Of The Bacterial Flywheel For Optimal Mineral Cycling In Oligotrophic Surface Waters

      Gustafson, Elizabeth S.; Button, Don K. (2008)
      Nutrient cycling in a subarctic oligotrophic lake was explored using current kinetic theory for organisms adapted to low nutrient environments with emphasis on bacterial contributions to system function. Techniques were refined which minimize sample disturbance and contamination for the purpose of accurately measuring bacterioplankton activity. Seasonal variations in DNA content, cell mass, species composition, specific affinity for amino acids and cell yield were observed. Quasi-steady state formulae describe bacteria as a flywheel in nutrient cycling; energy is conserved within a relatively constant biomass by varying bacterial activity with nutrient availability. The bacterial flywheel paradigm provides a bacteriocentric view of mineral cycling, linking kinetics to specific cytoarchitectural properties while maintaining links to substrate and grazing pressures. As an extention of the microbial loop paradigm, the flywheel becomes essential at high latitudes. In winter, low solar input interrupts the microbial loop so that the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool is cycled through bacteria only. This activity allows bacterioplankton to persist through winter and respond rapidly to springtime warming and nutrients. Microbial adaptations to seasonal variations in nutrient availability and temperatures were examined within the bacterial flywheel framework. Organisms are well-adapted to a narrow (17°C) in situ temperature range. Activation energies for small warming were low at the temperature extremes (20.6 kJ mol -1 at 0.5°C; -32 kJ mol-1 at 17°C) and high in spring (110 kJ mol-1 at 1.2°C). Nutrition varies by season, supplied in large part by amino acids in spring and summer. Winter growth rates are at least 0.013 day-1 whereas partial growth rate on amino acids for that season is only 2.8 x 10-5 day -1. It is proposed that winter organisms rely on diffusion transport and/or shift toward concurrent use of a large suite of substrate types for growth and maintenance.
    • Adrenal responsiveness of black-legged kittiwake chicks (Rissa tridactyla): interannual variation and the effects of nestling status, brood size and investigator disturbance

      Brewer, John H. (2007-08)
      The adrenal response to stress in birds is characterized by the release of the hormone corticosterone. Measurement of corticosterone of individuals is increasingly being promoted as a means to gauge the effects of environmental change or human disturbance on populations. However, species respond differently to stressors based upon their natural history, individual life history stage and the context of the stressor; thus, the collection of baseline data from individuals in their natural environment has been advocated. We measured baseline and stress-induced corticosterone levels of 12-15 day-old black-legged kittiwake (BLKI) chicks from 2002-2005 in Chiniak Bay, Alaska. The goals of the study were to explore the relationships between the adrenal responsiveness of BLKI chicks and 1) BLKI colony productivity; 2) brood size and nestling status; and 3) investigator disturbance. Adrenal responsiveness of chicks negatively correlated with colony productivity, implicating corticosterone concentration as an accurate indicator of colony productivity in poor years. Neither brood size nor nestling status affected the adrenal responsiveness of chicks in both natural broods and broods manipulated to control for maternal hormone deposition. Lastly, two levels of investigator disturbance analogous to that of a growth rate study on chicks did not significantly affect the adrenal responsiveness of chicks.
    • Alaskan Arctic epibenthic communities: distribution patterns, links to the environment, and brittle star population dynamics

      Ravelo, Alexandra Mariela; Konar, Brenda; Bluhm, Bodil; Mahoney, Andrew; Winsor, Peter; Zimmerman, Christian (2016-08)
      The Arctic marine shelves are characterized by areas of high and low invertebrate standing stock and communities that vary spatially in patches. Large-scale environmental characteristics, such as the distribution of water masses, the fenology of sea ice cover, and variability of water depth define changes in epibenthic community structure throughout the Arctic shelves. The longevity and relatively low mobility of epibenthic invertebrates make them especially relevant as indicators of long-term environmental patterns. In terms of standing stock and biomass, the most representative group among Arctic epibenthic taxa are brittle stars. Large areas of the Arctic shelves have dense assemblages of brittle stars; however, despite their ecological importance for Arctic shelf systems, little is known of their age, growth and turnover rates. The research developed through this dissertation examined how environmental drivers influence epibenthic invertebrate communities of the Alaska Arctic shelves and the population parameters of the dominant brittle star species. The first chapter of my dissertation focused on the northeastern Chukchi Sea and the second one focused on the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. The overarching questions addressed in chapters 1 and 2 focused on characterizing the epibenthic communities of the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort seas and defining environmental characteristics that influence the community structure. To answer this question, biological and environmental data were collected and analyzed in 2009 and 2010 in the Chukchi Sea, and in 2011 in the Beaufort Sea. For my third chapter, the overarching question was: what is the predictive power of the seasonality of sea ice for epibenthic community structure in the Alaskan Arctic, and how does it compare to more commonly used environmental descriptors. To test this relationship, six variables depicting the patterns of the seasonality of sea ice were computed from passive microwave sea ice concentration data. For the fourth chapter, the overarching question was, what are the population parameters of the two dominant brittle star species of the Alaskan Arctic. For this analysis, individuals of Ophiura sarsii and Ophiocten sericeum were collected in 2013 for age and organic mass determination. Findings of this research indicate that epibenthic communities have a patchy distribution with one or a few taxa dominating the community over large spatial extents. In both the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, communities were dominated by either crustaceans or echinoderms. Only in the mid-depth stations of the Beaufort Sea were both groups equally abundant. The environmental measure that best correlated to epibenthic commuity structure in both regions was longitude. Biologically relevant variables, such as sediment grain size, sediment phaeopigments, bottom water temperature and salinity, though region specific, were also important drivers of commuity structure. As predictors of epibenthic community structure, sea ice variables resulted in moderate to high correlation values. In the Beaufort Sea, sea ice variables performed better than traditionally used environmental descriptors; however, this was not the case for the Chukchi Sea. This study is the first to report on the age, growth and turnover of Arctic brittle stars. The asymptotic age was higher for O. sarsii than for O. sericeum; however, both species had significantly higher maximum ages than temperate region congeners. The individual production of O. sarsii surpassed that of O. sericeum by an order of magnitude throughout the size spectra. As a whole, this research highlights the complexity of the biological-environmental interactions that create the large spatial variability in community structure, benthic biomass and diversity throughout the Alaska Arctic. The variability in community structure throughout the Chukchi and Beaufort seas was linked qualitatively to large-scale environmental patterns. Quantitatively, these environmental forces were represented by the date of sea ice return and date of sea ice retreat in the Beaufort Sea. The predictive power of sea ice variables was reduced in the Chukchi Sea by the large inter-annual variability in wind direction and intensity that in turn affect the pattern of seasonality of sea ice. As integrators of large-scale environmental patterns, sea ice variables proved useful as additional predictors of epibenthic community structure. The dominant shelf brittle star species do not experience short-term fluctuations in population size. Top-down and bottom-up controls on these populations, such as predation and food supply, may be governing their growth strategy and total annual growth. Considering the longevity and slow growth of many Arctic epibenthic species such as brittle stars, the recovery after disturbance could require decades to restore high biomass in some areas. Environmental changes associated with climate change and resource development in the Arctic shelves have the potential to create large changes in the benthic system, such as local changes epibenthic community composition, dominant taxa, community diversity and benthic biomass hotspots. Future research focusing on the biological interactions that influence epibenthic communities, the supply and success of new recruits to the benthos and the temporal stability of epibenthic communities would help complete our understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of Arctic epibenthic communities and make solid predictions of future scenarios.
    • Alaskan king crab: Bering Sea distributions and a parasitic castrator

      Zacher, Leah Sloan; Hardy, Sarah; Eckert, Ginny; Kruse, Gordon; Horstmann, Lara; Morado, Frank (2018-05)
      King crab play an integral role in both marine ecosystems and fisheries; they influence benthic community structure through predation, help regulate trophic cascades, and are an important food source for large fishes, marine mammals, and humans. To sustainably manage king crab fisheries in a changing climate, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of king crab biology and behavior, as well as knowledge on how they utilize and interact with other components of the ecosystem. I investigated factors important to king crab sustainability and management, including distribution patterns and a parasitic castrator. Rhizocephalan barnacles in the genus Briarosaccus parasitize and castrate king crab hosts, thereby preventing host reproduction and potentially altering host abundance. In Alaska, prevalence is generally low (< 1% infection rate), yet higher prevalence has occurred in localized bays and fjords. I studied the larval biology of Briarosaccus regalis infecting Paralithodes camtschaticus (red king crab) to better understand how environmental factors in Alaska may influence prevalence. Maximum larval B. regalis survival occurred from 4 to 12°C and at salinities between 25 and 34. Given these parameters, current conditions in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea appear favorable for high survival of B. regalis larvae. Rhizocephalans not only castrate their hosts, but they cause changes in host morphology, physiology, and behavior. I used an untargeted metabolomics (liquid chromatography mass spectrometry) approach to compare the metabolite profiles (e.g., signaling molecules, hormones) of P. camtschaticus and Lithodes aequispinus (golden king crab) with and without rhizocephalan infections. Hundreds of putative metabolites were identified, yet few differed with crab sex and no metabolites could differentiate infected from healthy crab (regardless of crab sex). There were large variations in the crab metabolome with collection year and location, perhaps associated with environmental variability, which likely masked differences between sex and infection status. Summer distributions of Bristol Bay red king crab are well documented from surveys, but their distribution patterns at other times of year are poorly understood. Daily fishing logs, kept by vessel skippers in the red king crab fleet since 2005, contain detailed information on the spatial distribution of fishery effort and catch of legal sized male crab during the autumn crab fishery. However, data contained in these hand-written logbooks have not been readily accessible. I digitized daily fishing logs from 2005 to 2016 and used spatial information to infer geographic distributions. These distributions were compared across temperature regimes. In warm years (2005, 2014 - 2016) crab aggregated in the center of Bristol Bay, while in cold years (2007 - 2013) they were closer to the Alaska Peninsula. There are regions in Bristol Bay that are closed to the bottom trawl fisheries to protect red king crab; these results have management implications because they show the extent to which crab use these closure areas in the autumn, shortly before the winter trawl fisheries begin. As temperatures continue to shift in the Bering Sea, it will be important to continue monitoring crab distributions outside the summer survey period. Overall, these studies should help guide the placement of trawl closure areas, predict crab movement with temperature changes, understand the larval biology of B. regalis and what that could mean with climate change, and lead to a better understanding of the physiology of Briarosaccus infection.
    • Alternative sampling and estimation methods for multispecies trawl surveys

      Dressel, Sherri Christine (2004-05)
      Multispecies demersal trawl surveys are used in the United States and internationally to estimate the relative abundance of commercial and non-commercial fish species. Their usefulness for estimating species' abundance is often limited by the variance associated with estimates. This study implemented and evaluated alternative sampling and estimation methods, with the goal to incorporate additional sources of information for increased precision of individual species' estimates from multispecies trawl surveys. First, habitat characteristics and past spatial distributions of four flatfish species' density were incorporated into a multispecies trawl survey design conducted in Kalsin and Middle Bays, Kodiak Island, Alaska. Stratification by depth and percent sand produced estimates of relative abundance with lower CV s than those from unstratified sampling. Additional decreases in relative precision were generally not achieved by estimating the relative abundance of multiple species from regions of species-specific suboptimal habitat. Second, a poststratification technique was used to incorporate species-specific habitat characteristics and previous distributions of species' density into the estimation of species' abundance from the Kalsin and Middle Bays' trawl survey. Poststratification by habitat gave estimates with lower variance and/or less design-bias than an unstratified estimator for all species in all years. Poststratification by habitat and fish density produced estimates with the least design-bias for all species in all years and the lowest variance when stratum sample sizes were sufficient. Third, mixed model linear regression (MMLR), empirical Bayes (EB) and hierarchical Bayes (HB) estimation methods were used to incorporate historical trends of yellowfin sole, Limanda aspera biomass from the eastern Bering Sea trawl survey into annual biomass estimates. Using MMLR, EB, and HB methods resulted in biomass estimates that were less anomalous than survey estimates with respect to a linear regression trend. Estimates for all three methods had lower CV s than surveys in most years. The results of this thesis suggest that incorporating additional information into survey design and estimation can decrease the variability of survey estimates and/or correct for possible bias. Methods that can incorporate additional information, therefore, have the potential to improve survey assessments for management use.
    • Arctic circulation pathways, heat and freshwater fluxes: results from numerical model integrations

      Whitefield, Jonathan David; Winsor, Peter; Hoperoft, Russ; Weingartner, Thomas (2016-05)
      With increasing attention on Arctic warming and consequent reductions of sea ice, many studies are focusing on the “gateways” to the Arctic Ocean - the regions where water enters and exits the Arctic Basin. The Chukchi Sea is the only pathway for Pacific water to enter the Arctic Ocean. While the Chukchi naturally undergoes large seasonal and interannual variability, currently it is also undergoing larger and rapid changes, which include transition to a longer icefree season. Numerical models are often used to explore this region, due to observational restrictions associated with sea-ice. Most past and current models tend to represent riverine inputs in a non-realistic manner; adding freshwater on or past the shelf break, not accounting for seasonality of the river discharge, and omitting riverine heat content. In addition, in many of these models, buoyant coastal currents are not well resolved. Here, I present a new river discharge and river temperature data set (at 1/6° resolution). Employing this new data set within a high-resolution pan-Arctic model, freshwater content on the Arctic shelves increased by ~3600 km3 and summer heat fluxes increased by 8 TW (compared to previous models), resulting in a reduction of the Arctic-wide September sea ice extent by up to ~10%. With both the improved riverine forcing included in the model calculations, and the model’s ability to resolve the Alaskan Coastal Current, the model suggests an additional 0.25 Sv of flow to the long-term Bering Strait volume transport. This translates to a 64% increase in the heat transport and a 32% increase in freshwater transport (including 4% from sea ice). The model also resolves individual transport pathways in the Chukchi Sea, including that of Bering Sea Water, which could influence species composition and distribution in the eastern Chukchi Sea. Increased computing power and improved observational tools lead to more accurate reproductions of coastal currents and riverine influences in these numerical models. Greater understanding of this near-shore region and its influences is vital to further interpret larger connections between terrestrial and marine ecosystems, as well as Arctic-wide and global oceanic changes.
    • Assessing a macroalgal foundation species: community variation with shifting algal assemblages

      Metzger, Jacob Ryan; Konar, Brenda; Edwards, Matthew; Beaudreau, Anne (2018-08)
      Foundation species provide critical food and habitat to their associated communities. Consequently, they are disproportionately important in shaping community structure, promoting greater biodiversity and increased species abundance. In the Aleutian archipelago, once extensive kelp forests are now relatively rare and highly fragmented. This is due to unregulated urchin grazing shifting the majority of nearshore rocky-reefs from kelp forests to either urchin barrens or "transition forests" - kelp forests devoid of understory algae. The algal communities within kelp forests, transition forests, and urchin barrens represent a stepwise loss in fleshy algal guilds, a regression from a full algal community, to having only canopy kelp, to areas largely denuded of all fleshy algae. This stepwise loss of algal guilds was used to test the designation of the resident canopy-forming kelp, Eualaria fistulosa, as a foundation species--a species that has strong, positive effects on communities where it occurs. Therefore, I assessed the impact that E. fistulosa's occurrence had on faunal community structure (in terms of species diversity, abundance and biomass, and percent bottom cover)and invertebrate size-structure. This study found that the presence of E. fistulosa does not correspond to strong differences in invertebrate size-structure or faunal community structure. However, in kelp forests where E. fistulosa exists in tandem with a variety of subcanopy macroalgae, faunal communities are more species rich, have significantly different community structures with notably higher abundance, biomass, and percent cover of filter feeding taxa, and support sea urchin populations containing significantly higher proportions of larger individuals. Consequently, this study stresses the context dependent role of foundation species and suggests their strong, positive effects on associated communities may change with perturbations to ecosystems. To that end, this study suggests that we may need to reconsider the designation of E. fistulosa as a foundation species following the extensive fragmentation and range restriction that has occurred throughout much of the Aleutian Archipelago.
    • Assessment of the reproductive ecology of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) and northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) in Alaska using subsistence biosampling programs

      Hutchinson, Emily A.; Atkinson, Shannon; Hoover-Miller, Anne; Kruse, Gordon; Wynne, Kate (2014-08)
      Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) and northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) in Alaska have experienced extreme fluctuations in abundance in recent decades. The purpose of this study was to examine growth and determine the age and size at sexual maturity in populations of these two species, as spatial and temporal variations in environmental conditions and changes in ecological constraints as a result of population fluctuations can influence growth and reproductive characteristics of individuals. All samples for this research were collected via biosampling, the collection of measurements and biological tissue samples, as a component of subsistence harvesting by Alaska Natives. In Chapter 1, morphometric measurements and reproductive tracts were collected by the Alaska Native Harbor Seal Commission's Biosampling Program from female harbor seals harvested throughout the Gulf of Alaska from 1998 through 2005. Seals attained an asymptotic standard length (SE) of 147.7 ± 2.6 cm and body mass of 82.2 ± 4.8 kg. Female harbor seals did not mature until a minimum age of 3 yr, a standard length of 122 cm, and a weight of 48 kg. The average age of sexual maturity was 4.2 ± 0.7 yr (95% CI). Fetal growth was measured by standard length, curvilinear length, axillary girth, the cube root of fetal mass, skull length, condylobasal length, zygomatic width, and skull width against the day of the year the mother was harvested. The x-intercept of the linear regression of each fetal growth measurement against the day of the year produced estimates of the implantation date that ranged from September 22nd to October 17th, with a mean date of September 30th ± 8 d (SD). Harbor seals from this study are smaller in length, have a later implantation date, and are larger at sexual maturity compared to harbor seals in the Gulf of Alaska from the 1960s. In Chapter 2, morphometric measurements and reproductive tracts were collected by a Native Alaskan subsistence hunter from 40 male sea otters near Gustavus, in Southeast Alaska. The maximum recorded standard length and axillary girth were 160 cm and 78.7 cm, respectively. Sexual maturity was assessed by the histological examination of the testes and epididymides and the subsequent measurement and characterization of the seminiferous tubules. Male sea otters in the region reached sexual maturity at 3 to 4 yr of age, after attaining a standard body length of 130 cm., a mean seminiferous tubule diameter of 140 µm, and a baculum length of 14 cm. Sea otters outside Gustavus, Alaska exhibit increased body size and lower ages of sexual maturity compared to sea otters in other regions of Alaska, suggesting that resources are abundant and are not limiting maturation rates of male sea otters near Glacier Bay. In the future, as anthropogenic influences continue to increase and environmental conditions fluctuate, biosampling programs will be an invaluable tool for continued monitoring of marine mammals in Alaska.
    • Back to the future: Pacific walrus stress response and reproductive status in a changing Arctic

      Charapata, Patrick Maron; Horstmann, Larissa; Misarti, Nicole; Wooller, Matthew (2016-08)
      The Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) is an iconic Arctic marine mammal that Alaska Natives rely on as a subsistence, economic, and cultural resource. A decrease in critical sea ice habitat and uncertain population numbers have led to walruses being listed as a candidate for the Endangered Species Act. However, there is no clear understanding of how walruses might be affected by climate change. The first objective of this study was to describe how bone steroid hormone concentrations relate to commonly used blubber and serum steroid hormone concentrations (i.e., cortisol, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone), because steroid hormones have not been extracted from marine mammal bone until now. Bone, blubber, and serum were collected from individual adult walruses (n = 34) harvested by Native Alaskan subsistence hunters during 2014 and 2015. Complete turnover of cortical bone in a walrus skeleton was estimated as ~33 years, approximately the lifetime of a walrus. Results showed bone and blubber steroid hormone concentrations were similar (P = 0.96, 0.51, 0.27 for cortisol, estradiol, and progesterone (males only), respectively), but not testosterone (males and females, P = 0.003) nor progesterone in blubber of female walruses (P = 0.007). Progesterone concentrations in males were significantly correlated between bone and blubber (R² = 0.51, P < 0.001). Estradiol measured in bone had high interannual variability (P < 0.001), indicating a shorter reservoir time in cortical bone compared with other hormones in this study, possibly due to local production of estradiol in walrus bone. Overall, bone serves as a long-term reservoir of steroid hormone concentrations compared with circulating serum concentrations. Progesterone measured in blubber can be compared with bone progesterone, but local production of estradiol in bone should be taken into account when interpreting these concentrations in cortical bone. The second objective of this study was to understand the physiological resiliency of walruses to the current warming in the Arctic. Steroid hormone concentrations were measured in walrus bone collected from archaeological (n = 38, > 200 calendar years before present (BP)), historical (n =135, 200 – 20 BP), and modern (n = 47, 2014 – 2015) time periods, but were also analyzed at a finer decadal (1830s – 2010s) scale. Walrus bone cortisol concentrations measured in modern-day walruses were similar to other time periods (P = 0.38, 0.07, for archaeological and historical time periods, respectively) indicating no increase in the stress response of walruses as a result of current sea ice conditions in the Arctic. Estradiol (females only), progesterone, and testosterone were significantly negatively correlated with walrus population estimates (P = 0.008, 0.003, <0.001, respectively). A negative correlation indicates that walrus population numbers are low when reproductive hormone concentrations are high, and population numbers are high, possibly at carrying capacity, when hormone concentrations are low. Data from the current decade (2014–2015) show that the current walrus population has lower reproductive hormone concentrations compared to times of rapid population increase. These data indicate the present-day walrus population may not be increasing, but is either experiencing low calf production and / or is near its carrying capacity. Overall, these data provide walrus management with insights into the physiological resiliency of walruses in response to arctic warming, and validate bone as a valuable tissue for monitoring long-term physiological changes in the walrus population.
    • Bacteria associated with paralytic shellfish toxin-producing strains of Anabaena circinalis

      Raudonis, Renee Alaine (2007-12)
      Paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) are produced by dinoflagellates and cyanobacteria. There is growing evidence that bacteria associated with dinoflagellates play a role in the production of PSTs, however, no studies have examined the type of bacteria associated with toxic cyanobacteria or the role these bacteria could play in PST-production or metabolism. Further, there are no known axenic cultures of PST-producing cyanobacteria, suggesting that cyanobacteria are dependent on one or more bacteria for growth/survival. The research reported here examined the bacterial community associated with six Australian freshwater cyanobacterial strains of Anabaena circinalis obtained from the CSIRO, three toxic and three non-toxic. The goal was to identify bacteria that could be essential for cyanobacterial growth/survival and/or PST production/metabolism. Confirmation of cyanobacterial species identification was confirmed by molecular techniques; one species was found to be more closely related to Anabaena flos-aquae. PST-production by the three toxic strains was confirmed using HPLC. Bacterial communities associated with the cyanobacteria were dominated by the [alpha]-Proteobacteria, of which the Rhizobiales group was dominant. Two bacterial ribotypes were associated with only the toxic cyanobacteria, and could be important in PST-remineralization.
    • Barents Sea hydrographic variability (1975-1991)

      Zimmermann, Sarah Lukens (2003-12)
      Barents Sea temperature and salinity anomalies and their connection to the Arctic Oscillation (AO) are analyzed using a 16-year time-series of hydrographic data (1975-1991). Seasonal and inter-annual variations are investigated along two sections spanning the meridional and zonal length of the Barents Sea over two depth layers, 0 to 50m and 50 to 200m. Depending on location, mean seasonal differences in the deeper layer are as large as 3°C in temperature and 0.2 in salinity, whereas the upper layer differences are 6°C and 1.4. Inter-annual anomalies are 0.6°C and 0.07 in the deeper layer and 0.8⁰C and 1.2 in the upper layer. Temperature and salinity anomalies' leading EOFs explain 49% and 34% of the total variance, and are in-phase from 1975-1985 but out-of-phase for 1985-1991. Examination of the surface heat-flux suggests the temperature anomaly is advective before 1985 and locally formed after 1985. This is supported by the temperature anomaly's changing propagation pattern through the Barents Sea after 1985. The salinity anomaly's source appears to be advective throughout the period. The AO correlates with the temperature EOF suggesting the AO's influence on the temperature anomaly is stronger over the Norwegian Sea before 1985 and stronger over the Barents Sea after 1985.
    • Bathymetry of Alaskan arctic lakes: a key to resource inventory with remote-sensing methods

      Mellor, Jack C. (1982-05)
      Water depth is a major factor in predicting resources associated with tens-of-thousands of uninventoried Alaskan arctic lakes. Lakes were studied for physical, chemical, and biological resources related to water depth in 3 specific areas along a north/south transect extending from Pt. Barrow on the Arctic Ocean to the foothills of the Brooks Range. Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) imagery was acquired over the same study transect to investigate its application for determining lake depth. Ice thicknesses, necessary for the interpretation of depth contours from SLAR imagery, were measured along with other parameters in the study lakes throughout the winter 1978-79. This ice-thickness data and sequential SLAR images are used to illustrate a method of contouring water depths in arctic lakes. This is based on changes in intensity of SLAR signal return which define the zone at which ice cover contacts the bottom. This intensity is a function of physical and dielectric properties of the snow, ice, water, bottom substrates, and ice inclusions within these lakes. A computer program was developed to manipulate Landsat satellite digital data and compile a master file of lakes and their computer-calculated surface features (i.e. area, perimeter, crenulation, and centroid). The master file uniquely identifies each computer catalogued lake by latitude and longitude and stores the calculated features in a data base that can be retrieved for a specified geographic ABSTRACT area. Each lake record also provides storage space for resource data collected outside the computer generated data. The application of these remote-sensing tools and the knowledge of aquatic resources associated with bathymetry add to our ability for regional inventory, classification, and management of arctic lake resources.
    • Benthic community development in Boca de Quadra, Alaska

      Winiecki, Carol Irene (1986-05)
      The purpose of this experiment was to find ways of evaluating the community development in Boca de Quadra, a fjord in southeast Alaska, after a severe physical disturbance. Containers of defaunated sediment were used near the head of the fjord to simulate the benthic habitat after such a disturbance. Important features of community development were described, potential indicator taxa were selected, and the extent of community development was examined. Seasonal variations tended to mask the developmental trends. However, samples collected during the same season, but representing various lengths of colonization, allowed developmental trends to be observed in faunal composition, numbers of taxa, density, biomass, and diversity. Maldanidae, Nematoda, Lumbrineris luti. Leitoscoloplos pugettensis, Pholoe minuta. and Spionidae are potential indicators of community maturity.
    • Biogeochemical tracers of change in Pacific walruses past and present

      Clark, Casey; Horstmann, Lara; Misarti, Nicole; Konar, Brenda; Severin, Ken; Lemons, Patrick (2019-05)
      Reduced sea ice and projected food web shifts associated with warming of the Arctic have raised concerns about the future of Arctic species. Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) use sea ice as a platform for molting, giving birth, and resting between foraging bouts. Exactly how sea ice loss will affect walruses is difficult to predict, due to a lack of information about regional ecosystems and their responses to climate change. The objectives of the research in this dissertation were to 1) examine how walrus diet changed in response to shifting sea ice conditions over the last 4,000 years, with the goal of generating predictions about how current and future ice loss may affect the walrus population; 2) make it easier to directly compare the results of retrospective and contemporary stable isotope studies of walruses; and 3) generate new tools to assist wildlife managers in monitoring the walrus population in an uncertain future. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of walrus bone collagen indicated that diet was similar during previous intervals of high and low sea ice; however, diet variability among individual walruses was greater when sea ice cover was low, suggesting decreased abundance of preferred mollusk prey. Modern walrus diet was different from both previous high and low ice intervals, meaning that food webs in the Arctic are still in a state of flux, or that recent changes are novel within the last 4,000 years. Tissue-specific stable isotope discrimination factors were generated for walrus muscle, liver, skin, and bone collagen to improve comparisons between retrospective and contemporary studies of walrus diet. Additionally, lipid normalization models were parameterized for walrus skin and muscle, thereby making future walrus stable isotope research more feasible by reducing analytical costs and allowing the use of non-lethal sample collection. Finally, a novel technique for estimating the age at onset of reproductive maturity using concentrations of zinc and lead in the teeth of female walruses was established. This new approach has the potential to become a powerful tool for monitoring the walrus population and may be applicable to other species. Use of this technique on archived specimens may make it possible to examine changes in wildlife population dynamics across thousands of years.
    • Biogeochemistry of a glaciated fjord ecosystem: Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

      Reisdorph, Stacey; Weingartner, Thomas; Mathis, Jeremy; Hood, Eran; Danielson, Seth; Aguilar-Islas, Ana (2015-05)
      The burning of fossil fuels, coupled with land use and deforestation practices, has resulted in CO₂ being emitted into the atmosphere. As much as one third of the anthropogenic, or man-made, CO₂ that ends up in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans and has led to increases in marine dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations and a decrease in ocean pH, a process referred to as ocean acidification (OA). Increased concentrations of DIC can reduce saturation states (Ω) with respect to biologically important calcium carbonate minerals, such as aragonite. However, CO₂ may not be the only factor in seasonal changes to calcium carbonate saturation states. With this project I was interested in understanding how glacial runoff impacts the seasonal changes to the marine biogeochemistry in a glaciated fjord. In addition to CO₂, glacial meltwater is low in alkalinity (TA) and may impact the seasonal biogeochemistry of the marine system, as well as how it influences the duration, extent, and severity of OA events in an Alaskan glacial fjord, Glacier Bay National Park (GLBA). Through this study, I found that glacial runoff heavily impacts aragonite saturation states, with the main drivers of Ω (DIC and TA) varying seasonally. In GLBA low Ω values were well correlated with the timing of maximum glacial discharge events and most prominent within the two regions where glacial discharge was highest. The influence of glaciers is not limited to just TA as runoff is also low in macronutrients due to a lack of leaching from the soil and rocky streambeds. This has the potential to greatly impact the efficiency and structure of the marine food web within GLBA, the lowest level of which can be estimated using net community production (NCP). Changes within the lowest level of the food web, as a result of seasonal OA events, may lead to bottom-up effects throughout the food web, though this project focused only on production and respiration signals within the lowest level. We estimated regional NCP values for each sampling season and found the highest NCP rates (~54 to ~81 mmoles C m⁻² d⁻¹) between the summer and fall of 2011, with the most marine influenced lower part of the bay experiencing the greatest production. As the climate continues to warm, further glacial volume loss will likely lead to additional modifications in the carbon biogeochemistry of GLBA. Understanding the dynamics that drive seasonal changes in Ω, NCP, and the associated air-sea CO₂ fluxes within glacially influenced Alaskan fjords can provide insights into how deglaciation may affect carbon budgets and production in similar fjords worldwide.
    • Blubber and beyond: the role of lipids in thermoregulation and energy reserves of phocid seals

      Pearson, Linnea E.; Burns, Jennifer M.; Horstmann-Dehn, Larissa-A.; Pfeiffer, David C.; Mellish, JoAnn E.; Buck, C. Loren (2015-08)
      Phocid seals rely on lipids in the form of a blubber layer as insulation and lipids as energy sources in blubber and muscle. The amount and lipid composition of blubber and other lipid stores vary throughout life within and among species of phocid seals. I hypothesized that this variation in regulation, allocation, and interactions among lipid stores is influenced by species, ontogeny, and tissue-specific thermal regimes in polar phocids: harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus), hooded (Cystophora cristata), and Weddell (Leptonychotes weddellii) seals. I investigated the thermoregulatory strategy of neonatal harp, hooded, and Weddell seals, and throughout the transition to an aquatic environment in harp seals. All three species had similar thermal resistance, though it was achieved differently using either lanugo or blubber. While there was variation in the main thermoregulatory strategy among species, no species possessed all thermal adaptations of adults. Harp and Weddell seals had higher surface area to volume ratios (SA:V), thus higher potential heat loss, though compensatory mechanisms for heat production were different between species. Harp seals were the only species with the potential for nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) in brown adipose tissue (BAT), whereas Weddell seals had the highest potential for shivering thermogenesis (ST) in their skeletal muscle. Hooded seals relied on blubber, and had a significantly lower SA:V than the other two species. As harp seal pups develop, their potential for NST declines and they shift to a reliance on blubber for insulation. By late weaning, harp seal pups have similar insulative capabilities as adults, and can likely meet the thermoregulatory challenges associated with living in water. In neonatal and young seals that have little blubber, other lipid stores such as BAT and skeletal muscle lipids provide heat-generating mechanisms (NST or ST) to offset potentially high rates of heat loss. The potential for NST declines with age, as the blubber layer develops in harp seals, and weaned pups look to have similar insulative capabilities as adults. While phocid adults rely on blubber for insulation and maintain a thermal gradient across the tissue, otariids (fur seals and sea lions) instead maintain an external gradient across a thick fur layer. This has implications for the underlying lipid composition of blubber, as the fatty acids (FA) that make up this lipid respond differently to temperature. In phocid blubber, latitude (a proxy for environmental temperature) had a positive correlation with the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, but a negative correlation with saturated fatty acids. In otariids, these trends were reversed. This suggests interactions between blubber and the ambient environment play a role in the overall relative proportions of FA classes in blubber. Unlike in blubber, the FA class composition of harp, hooded, and Weddell seal skeletal muscle was similar among species. In adult female Weddell seals, the relative proportions of individual FA in blubber and muscle were significantly different between tissues; these differences persisted across seasons, and were independent of female reproductive state. It appears that the FA in blubber and muscle reflect the tissues' roles within the body. Blubber contained a greater proportion of monounsaturated FA, which remain fluid at lower temperatures, while the muscle contains a larger proportion of SFA, which produce the greatest amounts of ATP per mole oxidized to support metabolism. In adult phocids, the FA composition of the blubber layer appears to be influenced by environmental interactions with latitude (temperature), in accordance with the location of and steepness of the thermal gradient through the blubber layer. Finally, environment looks to have little influence on the FA stores in skeletal muscle, and seasonally persistent tissue differences between blubber and muscle highlight how lipid is dynamically modulated within the body of phocid seals. How and what lipids are allocated to blubber is a mixture of abiotic and biotic cues throughout life, linked to thermodynamics, ambient environment, and energy dynamics.
    • Body composition (carbon, nitrogen and calories) and energetics of immature walleye pollock, Theragra chalcogramma (Pallas), in the southeast Bering Sea

      Harris, Robert K. (1985-05)
      The body composition (carbon, nitrogen and calories) of Bering Sea and Resurrection Bay (Alaska) immature walleye pollock (9-360 g wet weight) were related to dry weight and Fulton's condition factor index by regression models. The condition factor was a better predictor of body composition than dry weight. As condition improved from a minimum starvation level of 0.42 to a maximum of 1.16, body caloric, percent carbon, and the carbon-nitrogen ratio increased, while percent nitrogen and percent ash decreased. The body composition measurements allowed energy budget terms (assimilation coefficient, growth, and metabolism) to be expressed in common units. The assimilation coefficient and growth terms were estimated from literature sources. Oxygen consumption measurements at 3-10°C yielded the metabolic term. The daily food requirement for 0-3 year old walleye pollock, at their annual average Bering Sea habitat temperature of 3.8°C, was 1.0 - 1.5% of the body weight.