Lingering Chukchi Sea sea ice and Chukchi Sea mean winds influence population age structure of euphausiids (krill) found in the bowhead whale feeding hotspot near Pt. Barrow, Alaska
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Lingering Chukchi Sea sea ice and Chukchi Sea mean winds influence population age structure of euphausiids (krill) found in the bowhead whale feeding hotspot near Pt. Barrow, Alaska

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  • Journal Title:
    PLOS ONE
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    Interannual variability in euphausiid (krill) abundance and population structure and associations of those measures with environmental drivers were investigated in an 11-year study conducted in late August–early September 2005–2015 in offshelf waters (bottom depth > 40 m) in Barrow Canyon and the Beaufort Sea just downstream of Distributed Biological Observatory site 5 (DBO5) near Pt. Barrow, Alaska. Statistically-significant positive correlations were observed among krill population structure (proportion of juveniles and adults), the volume of Late Season Melt Water (LMW), and late-spring Chukchi Sea sea ice extent. High proportions of juvenile and adult krill were seen in years with larger volumes of LMW and greater spring sea ice extents (2006, 2009, 2012–2014) while the converse, high proportions of furcilia, were seen in years with smaller volumes of LMW and lower spring sea ice extent (2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2015). These different life stage, sea ice and water mass regimes represent integrated advective responses to mean fall and/or spring Chukchi Sea winds, driven by prevailing atmospheric pressure distributions in the two sets of years. In years with high proportions of juveniles and adults, late-spring and preceding-fall winds were weak and variable while in years with high proportions of furcilia, late-spring and preceding-fall winds were strong, easterly and consistent. The interaction of krill life history with yearly differences in the northward transports of krill and water masses along with sea ice retreat determines the population structure of late-summer krill populations in the DBO5 region near Pt. Barrow. Years with higher proportions of mature krill may provide larger prey to the Pt. Barrow area bowhead whale prey hotspot. The characteristics of prey near Pt. Barrow is dependent on krill abundance and size, large-scale environmental forcing, and interannual variability in recruitment success of krill in the Bering Sea.
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    PLOS ONE, 16(7), e0254418
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    1932-6203
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    CC BY
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    Library
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