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Majewski A.R.,University of Winnipeg | Atchison S.,University of Winnipeg | MacPhee S.,University of Winnipeg | Eert J.,Institute of Ocean science | And 3 more authors.
Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers | Year: 2017

Marine fishes in the Canadian Beaufort Sea have complex interactions with habitats and prey, and occupy a pivotal position in the food web by transferring energy between lower- and upper-trophic levels, and also within and among habitats (e.g., benthic-pelagic coupling). The distributions, habitat associations, and community structure of most Beaufort Sea marine fishes, however, are unknown thus precluding effective regulatory management of emerging offshore industries in the region (e.g., hydrocarbon development, shipping, and fisheries). Between 2012 and 2014, Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted the first baseline survey of offshore marine fishes, their habitats, and ecological relationships in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Benthic trawling was conducted at 45 stations spanning 18-1001. m depths across shelf and slope habitats. Physical oceanographic variables (depth, salinity, temperature, oxygen), biological variables (benthic chlorophyll and integrated water-column chlorophyll) and sediment composition (grain size) were assessed as potential explanatory variables for fish community structure using a non-parametric statistical approach. Selected stations were re-sampled in 2013 and 2014 for a preliminary assessment of inter-annual variability in the fish community. Four distinct fish assemblages were delineated on the Canadian Beaufort Shelf and slope: 1) Nearshore-shelf: <50. m depth, 2) Offshore-shelf: >50 and ≤200. m depths, 3) Upper-slope: ≥200 and ≤500. m depths, and 4) Lower-slope: ≥500. m depths. Depth was the environmental variable that best explained fish community structure, and each species assemblage was spatially associated with distinct aspects of the vertical water mass profile. Significant differences in the fish community from east to west were not detected, and the species composition of the assemblages on the Canadian Beaufort Shelf have not changed substantially over the past decade. This community analysis provides a framework for testing hypotheses regarding the trophic dynamics and ecosystem roles of Beaufort Sea marine fishes, including biological linkages (i.e., fish movements and trophic interactions) among offshore habitats. Understanding regional-scale habitat associations will also provide context to identify potentially unique and/or sensitive habitats and fish community characteristics, thus aiding identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas, and to inform conservation efforts. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.

Foster K.L.,University of Manitoba | Foster K.L.,Trent University | Stern G.A.,University of Manitoba | Carrie J.,University of Manitoba | And 7 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2015

With declining sea ice conditions in Arctic regions owing to changing climate, the large prospective reservoirs of oil and gas in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait are increasingly accessible, and the interest in offshore exploration and shipping through these regions has increased. Both of these activities are associated with the risk of hydrocarbon releases into the marine ecosystem. However, hydrocarbons are also present naturally in marine environments, in some cases deriving from oil seeps. We have analyzed hydrocarbon concentrations in eleven sediment cores collected from northern Baffin Bay during 2008 and 2009 Amundsen expeditions and have examined the hydrocarbon compositions in both pre- and post-industrial periods (i.e., before and after 1900) to assess the sources of hydrocarbons, and their temporal and spatial variabilities. Concentrations of σPAHs ranged from 341 to 2693ngg-1 dw, with concentrations in cores from sites within the North Water (NOW) Polynya generally higher. Individual PAH concentrations did not exceed concentrations of concern for marine aquatic life, with one exception found in a core collected within the NOW (one of the seven sediment core samples). Hydrocarbon biomarkers, including alkane profiles, OEP (odd-to-even preference), and TAR (terrigenous/aquatic ratios) values indicated that organic carbon at all sites is derived from both terrigenous higher plants and marine algae, the former being of greater significance at coastal sites, and the latter at the deepest sites at the southern boundary of the NOW. Biomarker ratios and chemical profiles indicate that petrogenic sources dominate over combustion sources, and thus long-range atmospheric transport is less significant than inputs from weathering. Present-day and historic pre-1900 hydrocarbon concentrations exhibited less than an order of magnitude difference for most compounds at all sites. The dataset presented here provides a baseline record of hydrocarbon concentrations in Baffin Bay sediments in advance of offshore exploration and increased shipping activities. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Li K.,CAS South China Sea Institute of Oceanology | Doubleday A.J.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Galbraith M.D.,Institute of Ocean science | Hopcroft R.R.,University of Alaska Fairbanks
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2016

Atypical high abundances of two salp species occurred in the coastal Gulf of Alaska during 2011. Salpa aspera dominated numerically in aggregate form during spring, and became uncommon during summer, while Cyclosalpa bakeri increased from low during spring to high abundance during summer. Both species were absent, or nearly so, by fall. C. bakeri abundance was positively correlated to surface temperature in spring and summer, and both species abundances were negatively correlated to chlorophyll a. The proportion of aggregate forms of both species was higher than that of solitary forms during spring and summer. The length-frequency of S. aspera aggregate individuals ranged primarily from 10 to 50mm, and solitary forms reached 130mm, while C. bakeri aggregates were 10-25mm, with solitary forms up to 75mm. Estimated biomass of S. aspera was 0.35±0.64mg Cm-3 in southeastern Alaska during spring then decreased to 0.03±0.12mg Cm-3 during summer. Estimated biomass of C. bakeri was 0.03±0.06mg Cm-3 over the entire sampling domain during spring, then rose to 0.15±0.25mg Cm-3 during summer. The volume of water filtered daily by S. aspera was estimated to be up to 17% of the 200m water column at some stations during spring, but only up to ~3.5% during summer. Substantially higher grazing impact was possible if animals were largely confined to the surface mixed layer (typically 20-30m thick). The average volume filtrated was higher during spring for S. aspera, but for C. bakeri it was higher during summer. We propose that the combined effect of the northward transport of seed populations, their rapid biomass increase through asexual reproduction, and the high clearance rate of salps contributed to atypically low chlorophyll a in the Gulf of Alaska during spring and summer of 2011. This unusual event impacted ecosystem function during 2011, and might be expected to increase in frequency as the Gulf continues to respond to climate variations. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Burd B.J.,Ecostat Research Ltd | Thomson R.E.,Institute of Ocean science
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2015

The purpose of this study is to show that seafloor hydrothermal venting in the open northeast Pacific Ocean has a marked impact on secondary biomass and production within the overlying water column. Specifically, we use net tows and concurrently measured acoustic backscatter data collected over six summers to examine the effects of hydrothermal venting from the Endeavour Segment of Juan de Fuca Ridge on macro-zooplankton biomass and production throughout the entire 2000. m depth range. Previous research shows that ontogenetic diapausing migrators and their predators from the upper ocean aggregate above the neutrally buoyant plumes in summer and resume feeding on plume and bottom upwelled particles, resulting in increased zooplankton reproductive output to the upper ocean. Within the limitations of our sampling methodology, net tows reveal a statistically significant exponential decline in total water-column biomass with increasing lateral distance from the vent fields. The acoustic backscatter data show a similar decline, but only below 800. m depth. Near-surface biomass was highly variable throughout the region, but values near vents consistently ranged higher than summer values found elsewhere in the offshore northeast Pacific. Water-column biomass was similar in magnitude above and below 800. m depth throughout the region. Because epiplume biomass can be advected a considerable distance from vent fields, biomass enhancement of the water column from hydrothermal venting may extend considerable distances to the west and northwest of the vent sites, in the prevailing directions of the subsurface flow. Based on the extensive acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) data collected, and the strong correlation between zooplankton production derived from net sample biomass and acoustic backscatter intensity, we estimate that daily macro-zooplankton production in the upper 400. m of the water column within 10. km of the vent fields averages approximately 16% of photosynthetic primary production (the ". Z ratio"), whereas the total water-column zooplankton production averages 26% of surface primary production. Local grazing-rate estimates, metabolic constraints and other open-ocean studies suggest that the Z ratio should be no higher than 5%, which it is at off-axis background sites in the study region. This finding indicates that nutrient sources other than upper-ocean primary production fuel both upper- and deep-ocean zooplankton biomass and growth near the Endeavour Ridge hydrothermal vents. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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