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Establishing New Community Trophic Indices for the Bering Sea: a Stable Isotopic Retrospective Analysis of Food Web Structure


National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center

RO# Location
26.03.68.C0231 Juneau, AK 99801


Name E-mail Phone
Miller, Todd William 907-500-5606


Strong interannual variation in climate forcing and sea ice retreat within the eastern Bering Sea (EBS) has been shown to influence the timing and strength of spring blooms and zooplankton community structure, leading to variable energetic pathways and bottom-up control of higher trophic levels (Oscillating Control Hypothesis). The understanding of trophic processes have thus been a continuing priority for the North Pacific Research Board’s (NPRB) Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP), the Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s (AFSC) ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), and Strategic Science Plan. We propose the monitoring of food web structure for the EBS through retrospective analysis of zooplankton, fish and northern fur seals using stable isotope analysis, with the purpose of developing trophic indices to jumpstart isotope-based long-term monitoring of ecosystem trophic status. As a monitoring tool, stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen provide a more holistic integration of trophic level and source production (dinoflagellates vs. ciliates/flagellates) that address trophic processes, as opposed to more static measures of distribution and abundance. Stable isotopes are a low-cost alternative to diet studies that have a quick turnaround from tissue collection to results, and can be performed on stored tissues for retrospective analyses with no cost in ship time. The large pool of frozen and dry-preserved samples within AFSC from the Bering-Arctic-Subarctic Integrated Survey (BASIS) cruises and collections of northern fur seal tissue by the Marine Mammal Laboratory (MML) over the last decade presents a rare opportunity to provide high-value broad-scale retrospective analyses on mechanisms driving trophic level and source production shifts of key taxa associated with spatiotemporal variability in physical and biological ocean conditions.

Fisheries Oceanography; Climate Change; Food Webs; Stable Isotopes; Trophic Level; Source Production; Large Marine Ecosystems; Bering Sea


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and non-U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$58,000.00 $3,000.00

$2,000 Location Supplement


Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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