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Interannual and regional variability in distribution and ecology of juvenile pollock and their prey in frontal structures of the Bering Sea

Deep Sea Research Part II Topical Studies in Oceanography
DOI: 10.1016/s0967-0645(02)00333-8
  • Physics


Abstract The distribution, size, length-specific weight, growth, and feeding of age-0 walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) were examined along with their prey distribution patterns in two contrasting transects over a 4-year period (1994–1997) in relation to biophysical properties of frontal regions around the Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea. There were significant interannual differences in catch of age-0 pollock, but transect and habitat differences (inshore vs. front vs. offshore) were not significant for either catch or size of pollock. There were significant variations in length-specific weight and growth of pollock, but the trends were inconsistent. Copepods dominated the zooplankton biomass in all habitats and years; there were no consistent differences in the densities of the dominant zooplankton taxa among the habitats. There were, however, strong habitat and transect differences in juvenile pollock diet, particularly for the larger and presumably rarer prey taxa (euphausiids, chaetognaths, fish). We did not find any evidence that occupying a particular habitat was beneficial to young pollock, although other factors (e.g. bioenergetic advantage and predation refuge) that we did not examine here could have been more variable and critical to pollock survival. In a physically dynamic system such as the Pribilof Islands, age-0 pollock may need to continuously search for optimal conditions of high prey availability and low predation pressure.

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