Distribution and Life History of Spawning Capelin in Subarctic Alaska
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Distribution and Life History of Spawning Capelin in Subarctic Alaska

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  • Journal Title:
    Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
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    Capelin Mallotus villosus is a coldwater, marine forage fish that responds quickly to environmental fluctuations; however, little is known about Capelin in Alaskan waters. The objective of the current study was to better understand the distribution and life history of spawning Capelin in northern Norton Sound, Alaska. Surveys were conducted from May through July 2018 to locate and estimate the size of nearshore Capelin aggregations prior to spawning, identify the location and timing of spawning events, characterize spawning habitat, and collect actively spawning fish to examine life history characteristics (e.g., body size, age, fecundity, etc.). Most (85.9%) of the nearshore aggregations were less than 12 m2 in surface area. Spawning Capelin were collected in Norton Sound between June 15 and June 21. At spawning locations, gravel and coarse sand accounted for over 70% of the proportional weight of sediment collected within a beach, and all sediment samples contained Capelin eggs. Spawning males were larger than spawning females in TL (mean ± SD = 148.8 ± 6.7 mm versus 137.0 ± 8.4 mm, respectively) and total weight (21.2 ± 2.9 g versus 13.7 ± 3.0 g), and both sexes were predominately age 3 (age range = 2–4 years). Absolute fecundity was 9,219 ± 4,529 eggs, and the gonadosomatic index was 1.09 ± 0.32% for males and 21.69 ± 8.21% for females. Nearshore aggregation sizes in Norton Sound were smaller than those reported for Newfoundland, but spawning behavior, timing, and water conditions were similar to observations from other Capelin spawning regions (e.g., Greenland), as were size, age, fecundity, and gonadosomatic index estimates. Although the results from the current study update baseline information on spawning Capelin in northern Norton Sound, continued research on their distribution and life history is needed to better understand ecosystem function in the North Pacific Ocean.
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    Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 149(1), 43-56
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    Accepted Manuscript
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