The overall goal of the proposed study is to contribute to a comprehensive assessment of the oceanography, lower trophic levels, crab, and fish communities of the northeastern Bering Sea and eastern Chukchi Sea shelf and evaluate results relative to earlier studies in the same area and relative to similar studies in adjacent regions. General objectives include:
- Document and characterize the oceanography and the abundance and distribution of pelagic species (surface and midwater) at multiple trophic levels from plankton to fish in the Chukchi Sea lease area during the open water season.
- Document and characterize the abundance and distribution of demersal species in the Chukchi Sea lease area during the open water season.
- Estimate the geographic range of plankton, fish, and benthic invertebrates in the lease area by comparing recent and historic fishery databases in a synthesis report.
- Collect information on ichthyoplankton and juvenile fish, including ecological and life history information, to support Essential Fish Habitat analysis.
- Collect tissue samples of fish, crab, and zooplankton for genetic, energetic, isotopic, and other biological analyses.
- Provide a comparison of these communities with that of prior studies in the Chukchi Sea, as well as adjacent regions (Beaufort and Bering Seas), and relate species distributions and abundances to oceanographic water masses.
- Provide a geodatabase including base maps and attribute tables of marine fish and lower trophic communities.
- Facilitate collaboration (through a data sharing protocol) for an integrated ecosystem analysis with other researchers including State of Alaska, BOEM, NSF, NOAA, NPRB, and international industry research in the Chukchi Sea and recommendations of USARC.
- Perform data synthesis of key components of an Arctic integrated ecosystem study including foraging ecology, food web modeling, retrospective analysis, and gear type comparisons.