The distribution and abundance of small, schooling forage fish (e.g., sandlance, capelin) in Alaska is known from small-scale directed studies, but mostly inferred from incidental catches in large-scale trawl surveys that were not designed (by gear or location) to sample forage species. In contrast, seabirds are conspicuous, highly mobile, samplers of forage fish that go to great distances (100+ km) and depths ( 200m) to locate ephemeral prey with great efficiency. Thus, data on their dietary habits provides a valuable complement to traditional fisheries sampling. We propose to analyze large diet databases for three abundant seabirds (puffins, murres and kittiwakes) to: 1) characterize forage fish communities in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and Bering Sea/Aleutians, 2) describe temporal changes in abundance of forage species, and, 3) examine the possibility of using diet data to assess recruitment in selected species. We will also examine 20-30 year time-series of seabird breeding success and phenology at several colonies to determine: .1) whether these parameters can be used to make inferences about local forage fish stocks (abundance or timing), and 2) whether these seabird data co-vary with the prey base data at similar time/distance scales.
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|e9098a6c-1892-455c-937a-d0f34ccba5ee||Seabirds as marine ecosystem indicators across the Aleutian Archipelago||mdJSON||ISO 19115-2||HTML|