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Project Summary and Statement of Work: 
Progress Report: Jan, 2005
Progress Report: Jul, 2005
Progress Report: Jan, 2006
Final Report: Jul, 2006
Metadata & Data
Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands
Ecosystem components
Fish and Invertebrates
Ecosystem Studies
Aleutian Islands
forage fish
remote sensing
food web
Research Priorities
Ocean Ecosystem
Develop methods for an integrated BSAI ecosystem study to assess the following important understudied taxa often characterized as forage fish which play a critical role in the ocean ecosystem as food for upper trophic level fishes and marine mammals

0401 Survey strategies for assessment of Bering Sea forage species

Year funded: 2004
Start date: Oct 01, 2004
End date: Oct 30, 2006
Budget: $499,236.00
Metadata: Available At NPRB
Data: Available At NPRB
Lack of information on forage species composition, distribution, and movements hinders our understanding of their ecological role in the Bering Sea. Recognizing the need for development of forage species survey strategies, this
study characterized forage species in the slope, shelf, and nearshore regions of the Bering Sea using direct (midwater trawl, MultiNet, beach seine, jig, ROV) and indirect (acoustics, LIght Detection And Ranging (LIDAR)) sampling technologies.

Forage species distribution and quantity differed between shelf (6-100 m) and slope (6-100 m, 100-300 m, 300 m-bottom) regions. Acoustics suggest that shallow and deep layers contained dispersed backscatter while the middle layer contained patchy schools. LIDAR and visual measurements from aircraft

documented a patchy distribution of surface plankton and densely shoaling fish that exhibited a high degree of temporal and spatial variability within the 10 d study period. In the nearshore, Pacific sand lance dominated catches and other commonly captured forage fish were YOY Pacific sandfish and gadids. Zooplankton density in the upper 100 m of the water column was significantly higher in nearshore waters.

Though copepods were the most abundant taxa, euphausiids, second most abundant, provided more energy to predators due to their large size. We identified several potential candidate species/groups for assessment with acoustics and direct sampling. Other potential, near-surface species/groups could be surveyed with LIDAR and direct sampling.

Our results suggest that shelf, slope, and nearshore regions should be surveyed separately and that additional work, in the form of species-or group-specific temporal studies, should be undertaken to refine survey designs.

Principal Investigator(s)
Mark Benfield
Louisiana State University
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences Coastal Fisheries Institute 2179 Energy, Coast & Environment Bldg.
Baton Rouge LA 70803 USA
Phone: (225) 578-6372

Evelyn Brown
University of Alaska Fairbanks
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Institute of Marine Science P.O. Box 757220
Fairbanks AK 99775-7220 USA
Phone: (907) 590-2462

James Churnside
NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory
325 Broadway R/E/ET 1
Boulder CO 80303 USA
Phone: (303) 497-6744

Sandra Parker Stetter
University of Washington
Box 355020
Seattle WA 98195-5020 USA
Phone: 206-221-5459

Nicola Hillgruber
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Juneau Center, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences 11120 Glacier Highway
Juneau AK 99801 USA
Phone: (907) 465-8459

John Horne
University of Washington
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Box 355020
Seattle WA 98195 USA
Phone: (206) 221-6890

Mike Sigler
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Auke Bay Laboratory 11305 Glacier Highway
Juneau AK 99801 USA
Phone: (907) 789-6037
Scott Johnson

John Thedinga

Mandy Lindeberg

Dave Csepp

Ron Heintz

Jeff Condiotty

James Wilson