Climate-driven ichthyoplankton drift model predicts growth of top predator young.
ABSTRACT: Climate variability influences seabird population dynamics in several ways including access to prey near colonies during the critical chick-rearing period. This study addresses breeding success in a Barents Sea colony of common guillemots Uria aalge where trophic conditions vary according to changes in the northward transport of warm Atlantic Water. A drift model was used to simulate interannual variations in transport of cod Gadus morhua larvae along the Norwegian coast towards their nursery grounds in the Barents Sea. The results showed that the arrival of cod larvae from southern spawning grounds had a major effect on the size of common guillemot chicks at fledging. Furthermore, the fraction of larvae from the south was positively correlated to the inflow of Atlantic Water into the Barents Sea thus clearly demonstrating the mechanisms by which climate-driven bottom-up processes influence interannual variations in reproductive success in a marine top predator.
Project description:In many seabird studies, single annual proxies of prey abundance have been used to explain variability in breeding performance, but much more important is probably the timing of prey availability relative to the breeding season when energy demand is at a maximum. Until now, intraseasonal variation in prey availability has been difficult to quantify in seabirds. Using a state-of-the-art ocean drift model of larval cod Gadus morhua, an important constituent of the diet of common guillemots Uria aalge in the southwestern Barents Sea, we were able to show clear, short-term correlations between food availability and measurements of the stress hormone corticosterone (CORT) in parental guillemots over a 3-year period (2009-2011). The model allowed the extraction of abundance and size of cod larvae with very high spatial (4 km) and temporal resolutions (1 day) and showed that cod larvae from adjacent northern spawning grounds in Norway were always available near the guillemot breeding colony while those from more distant southerly spawning grounds were less frequent, but larger. The latter arrived in waves whose magnitude and timing, and thus overlap with the guillemot breeding season, varied between years. CORT levels in adult guillemots were lower in birds caught after a week with high frequencies of southern cod larvae. This pattern was restricted to the two years (2009 and 2010) in which southern larvae arrived before the end of the guillemot breeding season. Any such pattern was masked in 2011 by already exceptionally high numbers of cod larvae in the region throughout chick-rearing period. The findings suggest that CORT levels in breeding birds increase when the arrival of southern sizable larvae does not match the period of peak energy requirements during breeding.
Project description:The Barents Sea system is often depicted as a simple food web in terms of number of dominant feeding links. The most conspicuous feeding link is between the Northeast Arctic cod Gadus morhua, the world's largest cod stock which is presently at a historical high level, and capelin Mallotus villosus. The system also holds diverse seabird and marine mammal communities. Previous diet studies may suggest that these top predators (cod, bird and sea mammals) compete for food particularly with respect to pelagic fish such as capelin and juvenile herring (Clupea harengus), and krill. In this paper we explored the diet of some Barents Sea top predators (cod, Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Common guillemot Uria aalge, and Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata). We developed a GAM modelling approach to analyse the temporal variation diet composition within and between predators, to explore intra- and inter-specific interactions. The GAM models demonstrated that the seabird diet is temperature dependent while the diet of Minke whale and cod is prey dependent; Minke whale and cod diets depend on the abundance of herring and capelin, respectively. There was significant diet overlap between cod and Minke whale, and between kittiwake and guillemot. In general, the diet overlap between predators increased with changes in herring and krill abundances. The diet overlap models developed in this study may help to identify inter-specific interactions and their dynamics that potentially affect the stocks targeted by fisheries.
Project description:Alternatives in ecosystem-based management often differ with respect to trade-offs between ecosystem values. Ecosystem or food-web models and demographic models are typically employed to evaluate alternatives, but the approaches are rarely integrated to uncover conflicts between values. We applied multistate models to a capture-recapture dataset on common guillemots Uria aalge breeding in the Baltic Sea to identify factors influencing survival. The estimated relationships were employed together with Ecopath-with-Ecosim food-web model simulations to project guillemot survival under six future scenarios incorporating climate change. The scenarios were based on management alternatives for eutrophication and cod fisheries, issues considered top priority for regional management, but without known direct effects on the guillemot population. Our demographic models identified prey quantity (abundance and biomass of sprat Sprattus sprattus) as the main factor influencing guillemot survival. Most scenarios resulted in projections of increased survival, in the near (2016-2040) and distant (2060-2085) future. However, in the scenario of reduced nutrient input and precautionary cod fishing, guillemot survival was projected to be lower in both future periods due to lower sprat stocks. Matrix population models suggested a substantial decline of the guillemot population in the near future, 24% per 10 years, and a smaller reduction, 1.1% per 10 years, in the distant future. To date, many stakeholders and Baltic Sea governments have supported reduced nutrient input and precautionary cod fishing and implementation is underway. Negative effects on nonfocal species have previously not been uncovered, but our results show that the scenario is likely to negatively impact the guillemot population. Linking model results allowed identifying trade-offs associated with management alternatives. This information is critical to thorough evaluation by decision-makers, but not easily obtained by food-web models or demographic models in isolation. Appropriate datasets are often available, making it feasible to apply a linked approach for better-informed decisions in ecosystem-based management.
Project description:The Arctic amplification of global warming is causing the Arctic-Atlantic ice edge to retreat at unprecedented rates. Here we show how variability and change in sea ice cover in the Barents Sea, the largest shelf sea of the Arctic, affect the population dynamics of a keystone species of the ice-associated food web, the polar cod (Boreogadus saida). The data-driven biophysical model of polar cod early life stages assembled here predicts a strong mechanistic link between survival and variation in ice cover and temperature, suggesting imminent recruitment collapse should the observed ice-reduction and heating continue. Backtracking of drifting eggs and larvae from observations also demonstrates a northward retreat of one of two clearly defined spawning assemblages, possibly in response to warming. With annual to decadal ice-predictions under development the mechanistic physical-biological links presented here represent a powerful tool for making long-term predictions for the propagation of polar cod stocks.
Project description:Abstract Climate change is commonly associated with many species redistributions and the influence of other factors may be marginalized, especially in the rapidly warming Arctic. The Barents Sea, a high latitude large marine ecosystem in the Northeast Atlantic has experienced above?average temperatures since the mid?2000s with divergent bottom temperature trends at subregional scales. Concurrently, the Barents Sea stock of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, one of the most important commercial fish stocks in the world, increased following a large reduction in fishing pressure and expanded north of 80°N. We examined the influence of food availability and temperature on cod expansion using a comprehensive data set on cod stomach fullness stratified by subregions characterized by divergent temperature trends. We then tested whether food availability, as indexed by cod stomach fullness, played a role in cod expansion in subregions that were warming, cooling, or showed no trend. The greatest increase in cod occupancy occurred in three northern subregions with contrasting temperature trends. Cod apparently benefited from initial high food availability in these regions that previously had few large?bodied fish predators. The stomach fullness in the northern subregions declined rapidly after a few years of high cod abundance, suggesting that the arrival of cod caused a top?down effect on the prey base. Prolonged cod residency in the northern Barents Sea is, therefore, not a certainty. We examined the influence of food availability and temperature on cod expansion using a comprehensive data set on cod stomach fullness stratified by subregions characterized by divergent temperature trends. The greatest increase in cod occupancy occurred in three northern subregions with contrasting temperature trends. Here, cod apparently benefited from initial high food availability with few large?bodied fish predators prior to the arrival of cod.
Project description:Spring sea ice phenology regulates the timing of the two consecutive pulses of marine autotrophs that form the base of the Arctic marine food webs. This timing has been suggested to be the single most essential driver of secondary production and the efficiency with which biomass and energy are transferred to higher trophic levels. We investigated the chronological sequence of productivity pulses and its potential cascading impacts on the reproductive performance of the High Arctic seabird community from Svalbard, Norway. We provide evidence that interannual changes in the seasonal patterns of marine productivity may impact the breeding performance of little auks and Brünnich's guillemots. These results may be of particular interest given that current global warming trends in the Barents Sea region predict one of the highest rates of sea ice loss within the circumpolar Arctic. However, local- to regional-scale heterogeneity in sea ice melting phenology may add uncertainty to predictions of climate-driven environmental impacts on seabirds. Indeed, our fine-scale analysis reveals that the inshore Brünnich's guillemots are facing a slower advancement in the timing of ice melt compared to the offshore-foraging little auks. We provide a suitable framework for analyzing the effects of climate-driven sea ice disappearance on seabird fitness.
Project description:Mandt's black guillemot (Cepphus grylle mandtii) is one of the few seabirds associated in all seasons with Arctic sea ice, a habitat that is changing rapidly. Recent decreases in summer ice have reduced breeding success and colony size of this species in Arctic Alaska. Little is known about the species' movements and distribution during the nine month non-breeding period (September-May), when changes in sea ice extent and composition are also occurring and predicted to continue. To examine bird movements and the seasonal role of sea ice to non-breeding Mandt's black guillemots, we deployed and recovered (n = 45) geolocators on individuals at a breeding colony in Arctic Alaska during 2011-2015. Black guillemots moved north to the marginal ice zone (MIZ) in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas immediately after breeding, moved south to the Bering Sea during freeze-up in December, and wintered in the Bering Sea January-April. Most birds occupied the MIZ in regions averaging 30-60% sea ice concentration, with little seasonal variation. Birds regularly roosted on ice in all seasons averaging 5 h d(-1), primarily at night. By using the MIZ, with its roosting opportunities and associated prey, black guillemots can remain in the Arctic during winter when littoral waters are completely covered by ice.
Project description:Currently available genome assemblies for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) have been constructed from fish belonging to the Northeast Arctic Cod (NEAC) population; a migratory population feeding in the Barents Sea. These assemblies have been crucial for the development of genetic markers which have been used to study population differentiation and adaptive evolution in Atlantic cod, pinpointing four discrete islands of genomic divergence located on linkage groups 1, 2, 7 and 12. In this paper, we present a high-quality reference genome from a male Atlantic cod representing a southern population inhabiting the Celtic sea. The genome assembly (gadMor_Celtic) was produced from long-read nanopore data and has a combined contig length of 686 Mb with an N50 of 10 Mb. Integrating contigs with genetic linkage mapping information enabled us to construct 23 chromosome sequences which mapped with high confidence to the latest NEAC population assembly (gadMor3) and allowed us to characterize, to an extent not previously reported large chromosomal inversions on linkage groups 1, 2, 7 and 12. In most cases, inversion breakpoints could be located within single nanopore contigs. Our results suggest the presence of inversions in Celtic cod on linkage groups 6, 11 and 21, although these remain to be confirmed. Further, we identified a specific repetitive element that is relatively enriched at predicted centromeric regions. Our gadMor_Celtic assembly provides a resource representing a 'southern' cod population which is complementary to the existing 'northern' population based genome assemblies and represents the first step toward developing pan-genomic resources for Atlantic cod.
Project description:As a result of ocean warming, the species composition of the Arctic seas has begun to shift in a boreal direction. One ecosystem prone to fauna shifts is the Northeast Greenland shelf. The dispersal route taken by boreal fauna to this area is, however, not known. This knowledge is essential to predict to what extent boreal biota will colonise Arctic habitats. Using population genetics, we show that Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), beaked redfish (Sebastes mentella), and deep-sea shrimp (Pandalus borealis) recently found on the Northeast Greenland shelf originate from the Barents Sea, and suggest that pelagic offspring were dispersed via advection across the Fram Strait. Our results indicate that boreal invasions of Arctic habitats can be driven by advection, and that the fauna of the Barents Sea can project into adjacent habitats with the potential to colonise putatively isolated Arctic ecosystems such as Northeast Greenland.
Project description:The use of parasites as biological tags for discrimination of fish stocks has become a commonly used approach in fisheries management. Metazoan parasite community analysis and anisakid nematode population genetics based on a mitochondrial cytochrome marker were applied in order to assess the usefulness of the two parasitological methods for stock discrimination of beaked redfish Sebastes mentella of three fishing grounds in the North East Atlantic. Multivariate, model-based approaches demonstrated that the metazoan parasite fauna of beaked redfish from East Greenland differed from Tampen, northern North Sea, and Bear Island, Barents Sea. A joint model (latent variable model) was used to estimate the effects of covariates on parasite species and identified four parasite species as main source of differences among fishing grounds; namely Chondracanthus nodosus, Anisakis simplex s.s., Hysterothylacium aduncum, and Bothriocephalus scorpii. Due to its high abundance and differences between fishing grounds, Anisakis simplex s.s. was considered as a major biological tag for host stock differentiation. Whilst the sole examination of Anisakis simplex s.s. on a population genetic level is only of limited use, anisakid nematodes (in particular, A. simplex s.s.) can serve as biological tags on a parasite community level. This study confirmed the use of multivariate analyses as a tool to evaluate parasite infra-communities and to identify parasite species that might serve as biological tags. The present study suggests that S. mentella in the northern North Sea and Barents Sea is not sub-structured.