skip to main content

Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1757348

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Along the Gulf ofAlaska, rapid glacier retreat has driven changes in transport of freshwater, sediments, and nutrients to estuary habitats. Over the coming decades, deglaciation will lead to a temporary increase, followed by a long-term decline of glacial influence on estuaries. Therefore, quantifying the current variability in estuarine fish community structure in regions predicted to be most affected by glacier loss is necessary to anticipate future impacts. We analyzed fish community data collected monthly (April through September) over 7 years (2013–2019) from glacially influenced estuaries along the southeastern Gulf of Alaska. River delta sites within estuaries were sampled along a natural gradient of glacial to non-glacial watersheds to characterize variation in fish communities exposed to varying degrees of glacial influence. Differences in seasonal patterns of taxa richness and abundance between the most and least glacially influenced sites suggest that hydrological drivers influence the structure of delta fish communities. The most glacially influenced sites had lower richness but higher abundance overall compared to those with least glacial influence; however, differences among sites were small compared to differences across months. Two dominant species—Pacific staghorn sculpin and starry flounder—contributed most to spatial and temporal variation in community composition; however, given only small interannualmore »differences in richness and abundance over the period of the study, we conclude that year-to-year variation at these sites is relatively low at present. Our study provides an important benchmark against which to compare shifts in fish communities as watersheds and downstream estuaries continue to transform in the coming decades.

    « less
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Coastal ecosystems in Alaska are undergoing rapid change due to warming and glacier recession. We used a natural gradient of glacierized to non-glacierized watersheds (0–60% glacier coverage) in two regions along the Gulf of Alaska—Kachemak Bay and Lynn Canal—to evaluate relationships between local environmental conditions and estuarine fish communities. Multivariate analyses of fish community data collected from five sites per region in 2019 showed that region accounted for the most variation in community composition, suggesting that local effects of watershed type were masked by regional-scale variables. Seasonal shifts in community composition were driven largely by the influx of juvenile Pacific salmon ( Oncorhynchus spp.) in late spring. Spatiotemporal differences among fish communities were partly explained by salinity and temperature, which accounted for 19.5% of the variation in community composition. We used a multi-year dataset from Lynn Canal (2014–2019) to examine patterns of mean length for two dominant species. Generalized additive mixed models indicated that Pacific staghorn sculpin ( Leptocottus armatus ) mean length varied along site-specific seasonal gradients, increasing gradually through the summer in the least glacially influenced sites and increasing rapidly to an asymptote of ~ 150 mm in the most glacially influenced sites. Starry flounder ( Platichthys stellatus ) meanmore »length was more strongly related to environmental conditions, increasing with temperature and turbidity. Together, our findings suggest that community compositions of estuarine fishes show greater variation at the regional scale than the watershed scale, but species-specific variation in size distributions may indicate differences in habitat quality across watershed types within regions.« less
  4. Abstract. We combine a glacier outburst flood model with a glacier flow model to investigate decadal to centennial variations in outburst floods originating from ice-dammed marginal basins. Marginal basins can form due to the retreat and detachment of tributary glaciers, a process that often results in remnant ice being left behind. The remnant ice, which can act like an ice shelf or break apart into a pack of icebergs, limits a basin's water storage capacity but also exerts pressure on the underlying water and promotes drainage. We find that during glacier retreat there is a strong, nearly linear relationship between flood water volume and peak discharge for individual basins, despite large changes in glacier and remnant ice volumes that are expected to impact flood hydrographs. Consequently, peak discharge increases over time as long as there is remnant ice remaining in a basin, and peak discharge begins to decrease once a basin becomes ice-free. Thus, similar size outburst floods can occur at very different stages of glacier retreat. We also find that the temporal variability in outburst flood magnitude depends on how the floods initiate. Basins that connect to the subglacial hydrological system only after reaching flotation depth yield greater long-termmore »variability in outburst floods than basins that are continuously connected to the subglacial hydrological system (and therefore release floods that initiate before reaching flotation depth). Our results highlight the importance of improving our understanding of both changes in basin geometry and outburst flood initiation mechanisms in order to better assess outburst flood hazards and their impacts on landscape and ecosystem evolution.« less
  5. Abstract Killer whales ( Orcinus orca ) are top predators throughout the world’s oceans. In the North Pacific, the species is divided into three ecotypes—resident (fish-eating), transient (mammal-eating), and offshore (largely shark-eating)—that are genetically and acoustically distinct and have unique roles in the marine ecosystem. In this study, we examined the year-round distribution of killer whales in the northern Gulf of Alaska from 2016 to 2020 using passive acoustic monitoring. We further described the daily acoustic residency patterns of three killer whale populations (southern Alaska residents, Gulf of Alaska transients, and AT1 transients) for one year of these data. Highest year-round acoustic presence occurred in Montague Strait, with strong seasonal patterns in Hinchinbrook Entrance and Resurrection Bay. Daily acoustic residency times for the southern Alaska residents paralleled seasonal distribution patterns. The majority of Gulf of Alaska transient detections occurred in Hinchinbrook Entrance in spring. The depleted AT1 transient killer whale population was most often identified in Montague Strait. Passive acoustic monitoring revealed that both resident and transient killer whales used these areas much more extensively than previously known and provided novel insights into high use locations and times for each population. These results may be driven by seasonal foraging opportunitiesmore »and social factors and have management implications for this species.« less
  6. Abstract Glacier retreat poses risks and benefits for species of cultural and economic importance. One example is Pacific salmon ( Oncorhynchus spp.), supporting subsistence harvests, and commercial and recreational fisheries worth billions of dollars annually. Although decreases in summer streamflow and warming freshwater is reducing salmon habitat quality in parts of their range, glacier retreat is creating new streams and lakes that salmon can colonize. However, potential gains in future salmon habitat associated with glacier loss have yet to be quantified across the range of Pacific salmon. Here we project future gains in Pacific salmon freshwater habitat by linking a model of glacier mass change for 315 glaciers, forced by five different Global Climate Models, with a simple model of salmon stream habitat potential throughout the Pacific Mountain ranges of western North America. We project that by the year 2100 glacier retreat will create 6,146 (±1,619) km of new streams accessible for colonization by Pacific salmon, of which 1,930 (±569) km have the potential to be used for spawning and juvenile rearing, representing 0 to 27% gains within the 18 sub-regions we studied. These findings can inform proactive management and conservation of Pacific salmon in this era of rapid climatemore »change.« less