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Webinar : Prospects for whole-of-ecosystem sampling and synthesis for Arctic oceans

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Thursday, 16 September 2021, 3:00

Thursday, September 16, 2021. 3:00 PM. Webinar : Prospects for whole-of-ecosystem sampling and synthesis for Arctic oceans. James Thorson, NOAA. Sponsored by NOAA. More information here. Register here.

Abstract: Loss of sea ice is causing rapid ecosystem change in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and it is important to synthesize all available data to detect ecosystem trends. These ecosystems also exhibit hotspots in biomass and production, so any synthesis must distinguish spatial from seasonal and interannual variation. Finally, managers and stakeholders are typically interested in understanding localized consequences of changes in the Arctic (whether coast erosion, changes to shipping routes, or other Arctic impacts).

From these considerations, I argue that managers and stakeholders will need a whole-of- ecosystem synthesis that includes spatial and temporal variation. I then review two recent studies illustrating prospects for such a synthesis. The first integrates physics, lower-trophic, surface and demersal fish surveys, fishing effort, and seabirds in the eastern Bering Sea, and demonstrates a synchronous impact of cold-pool extent. The second extends this analysis to include surveys of fish size, physiological condition, and stomach contents for Alaska pollock. Collectively, these two studies illustrate the potential to incorporate physical conditions, numerical densities, and demographic rates within a single synthesis model. I conclude by listing a few potential applications for such a synthesis, e.g., to:1. Evaluate alternative ecosystem sampling designs;2. Identifying potential impacts of future changes in shipping routes or offshore energy activities;3. Anticipate changes to food security for local community resulting from shifting availability of living marine resources;Throughout, I emphasize the need for integrated monitoring, modelling, and process research to understand challenges in the Arctic.

Bio(s): James Thorson works to improve collaboration between NOAA scientists conducting research regarding habitat, stock, ecosystem, and climate assessments, both at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and nationally. To do so, I envision and encourage cross-program research including process research (lab and field experiments),monitoring, and synthesis. In my own research, I also investigate spatio-temporal ecosystem dynamics, life-history theory, and statistical methods.

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