Resource?driven colonization by cod in a high Arctic food web
ABSTRACT: 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:This study aims to understand the relative roles of external forcing versus internal climate variability in causing the observed Barents Sea winter sea ice extent (SIE) decline since 1979. We identify major discrepancies in the spatial patterns of winter Northern Hemisphere sea ice concentration trends over the satellite period between observations and CMIP5 multi-model mean externally forced response. The CMIP5 externally forced decline in Barents Sea winter SIE is much weaker than that observed. Across CMIP5 ensemble members, March Barents Sea SIE trends have little correlation with global mean surface air temperature trends, but are strongly anti-correlated with trends in Atlantic heat transport across the Barents Sea Opening (BSO). Further comparison with control simulations from coupled climate models suggests that enhanced Atlantic heat transport across the BSO associated with regional internal variability may have played a leading role in the observed decline in winter Barents Sea SIE since 1979.
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: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 trophic link between cod (Gadus sp.) and capelin (Mallotus sp.) is important in many panarctic ecosystems. Since the early 2000s, the Northeast Arctic cod stock (G. morhua) in the Barents Sea has increased greatly, and the sea has been exceptionally warm. Such changes have potentially large effects on species distributions and overlap, which in turn could affect the strength of species interactions. Due to its high latitude location, the Barents Sea has strong seasonal variation in physical conditions and interactions. To study drivers of variation in cod-capelin overlap, we use data from two annual surveys run in winter and in autumn of 2004-2015. We first model winter and autumn spatial distributions of mature and immature cod and capelin. We then calculate overlap from model predictions on a grid with similar spatial resolution as the survey data. Our approach allowed us to interpret changes in overlap as species-specific effects of stock size and temperature, while accounting for sampling variation due to sampling time and depth. We found that during winter both species expanded their distribution in response to increased stock sizes, but how strongly and where the expansion occurred varied. The effect of temperature on distributions varied in space, and differed for cod and capelin and for different components of the two species. The results for autumn were clearer and more consistent. Both species expanded their distribution areas as their stock sizes increased. A positive effect of temperature was found in the north-eastern Barents Sea, where temperatures were lowest at the start of the study. Overlap increased and shifted north-eastwards during the study period and remained high despite a decline in the capelin stock. The increased overlap during autumn could mainly be attributed to the shift in cod distribution with increased cod stock biomass.
Project description:The widespread depletion of commercially exploited marine living resources is often seen as a general failure of management and results in criticism of contemporary management procedures. When populations show dramatic and positive changes in population size, this invariably leads to questions about whether favorable climatic conditions or good management (or both) were responsible. The Barents Sea cod (Gadus morhua) stock has recently increased markedly and the spawning stock biomass is now at an unprecedented high. We identify the crucial social and environmental factors that made this unique growth possible. The relationship between vital rates of Barents Sea cod stock productivity (recruitment, growth, and mortality) and environment is investigated, followed by simulations of population size under different management scenarios. We show that the recent sustained reduction in fishing mortality, facilitated by the implementation of a "harvest control rule," was essential to the increase in population size. Simulations show that a drastic reduction in fishing mortality has resulted in a doubling of the total population biomass compared with that expected under the former management regime. However, management alone was not solely responsible. We document that prevailing climate, operating through several mechanistic links, positively reinforced management actions. Heightened temperature resulted in an increase in the extent of the suitable feeding area for Barents Sea cod, likely offering a release from density-dependent effects (for example, food competition and cannibalism) through prolonged overlap with prey and improved adult stock productivity. Management and climate may thus interact to give a positive outlook for exploited high-latitude marine resources.
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:The Norwegian spring-spawning (NSS) herring (Clupea harengus), blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) and Northeast Atlantic (NEA) mackerel (Scomber scombrus) are extremely abundant pelagic planktivores that feed in the Norwegian Sea (NS) during spring and summer. This study investigated the feeding ecology and diet composition of these commercially important fish stocks on the basis of biological data, including an extensive set of stomach samples in combination with hydrographical data, zooplankton samples and acoustic abundance data from 12 stock monitoring surveys carried out in 2005-2010. Mackerel were absent during the spring, but had generally high feeding overlap with herring in the summer, with a diet mainly based on calanoid copepods, especially Calanus finmarchicus, as well as a similar diet width. Stomach fullness in herring diminished from spring to summer and feeding incidence was lower than that of mackerel in summer. However, stomach fullness did not differ between the two species, indicating that herring maintain an equally efficient pattern of feeding as mackerel in summer, but on a diet that is less dominated by copepods and is more reliant on larger prey. Blue whiting tended to have a low dietary overlap with mackerel and herring, with larger prey such as euphausiids and amphipods dominating, and stomach fullness and feeding incidence increasing with length. For all the species, feeding incidence increased with decreasing temperature, and for mackerel so did stomach fullness, indicating that feeding activity is highest in areas associated with colder water masses. Significant annual effects on diet composition and feeding-related variables suggested that the three species are able to adapt to different food and environmental conditions. These annual effects are likely to have an important impact on the predation pressure on different plankton groups and the carrying capacity of individual systems, and emphasise the importance of regular monitoring of pelagic fish diets.
Project description:Direct and indirect effects of global warming are expected to be pronounced and fast in the Arctic, impacting terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. The Barents Sea is a high latitude shelf Sea and a boundary area between arctic and boreal faunas. These faunas are likely to respond differently to changes in climate. In addition, the Barents Sea is highly impacted by fisheries and other human activities. This strong human presence places great demands on scientific investigation and advisory capacity. In order to identify basic community structures against which future climate related or other human induced changes could be evaluated, we analyzed species composition and diversity of demersal fish in the Barents Sea. We found six main assemblages that were separated along depth and temperature gradients. There are indications that climate driven changes have already taken place, since boreal species were found in large parts of the Barents Sea shelf, including also the northern Arctic area. When modelling diversity as a function of depth and temperature, we found that two of the assemblages in the eastern Barents Sea showed lower diversity than expected from their depth and temperature. This is probably caused by low habitat complexity and the distance to the pool of boreal species in the western Barents Sea. In contrast coastal assemblages in south western Barents Sea and along Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Eastern Barents Sea can be described as diversity "hotspots"; the South-western area had high density of species, abundance and biomass, and here some species have their northern distribution limit, whereas the Novaya Zemlya area has unique fauna of Arctic, coastal demersal fish. (see Information S1 for abstract in Russian).
Project description:Intake of food or fluid distends the stomach and triggers mechanoreceptors and vagal afferents. Wall stretch and tension produces a feeling of fullness. Duodenal infusion studies assessing gastric sensitivity by barostat have shown that the products of fat digestion have a greater effect on the sensation of fullness and also dyspeptic symptoms than carbohydrates. We tested here the hypothesis that fat and carbohydrate have different effects on gastric sensation under physiological conditions using non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure gastric volumes.Thirteen healthy subjects received a rice pudding test meal with added fat or added carbohydrate on two separate occasions and underwent serial postprandial MRI scans for 4.5?h. Fullness was assessed on a 100-mm visual analogue scale.Gastric half emptying time was significantly slower for the high-carbohydrate meal than for the high-fat meal, P=0.0327. Fullness significantly correlated with gastric volumes for both meals; however, the change from baseline in fullness scores was higher for the high-fat meal for any given change in stomach volume (P=0.0147), despite the lower energy content and faster gastric emptying of the high-fat meal.Total gastric volume correlates positively and linearly with postprandial fullness and ingestion of a high-fat meal increases this sensation compared with high-carbohydrate meal. These findings can be of clinical interest in patients presenting with postprandial dyspepsia whereby manipulating gastric sensitivity by dietary intervention may help to control digestive sensations.
Project description: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.