NSF GRIP NOAA Opportunity Position
Project title: Ecosystem structure in the Gulf of Alaska: The role of competition among juvenile fishes
Hypothesis or objectives: As age-0 juveniles, arrowtooth flounder outcompete walleye pollock for prey resources
Duration: 3 - 12 months
Area(s) of discipline: Ecology, Marine And Aquatic Sciences, Oceanography
Internship location: Seattle, WA
Duties and responsibilities: The mission of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) is to conduct scientific research needed for utilization, management, and conservation of Alaska’s living marine resources. Ecosystem research AFSC is based on the hypothesis that the effect of ecosystem function on fish recruitment is most evident during the first winter when mortality is a function of size and energetic status obtained during the previous summer and fall. Prior to winter onset, young-of-the-year (age-0) fish abundance is typically high. Abundance and dietary overlap makes competition among species at this life stage highly probable. Competition reduces fitness potentially reducing overwinter survival. Arrowtooth flounder constrain the abundance of walleye pollock, which is an economically important species in the Gulf ecosystem. Quantifying diet overlap could also help resolve fine-scale processes in the allocation of trophic energy between benthic (arrowtooth flounder) and pelagic (walleye pollock) pathways. This research would increase our understanding of operative mechanisms in the Gulf ecosystem and which mechanisms control recruitment. The graduate research student will work with archived diet data to broadly characterize the dietary overlap of juvenile arrowtooth flounder and walleye pollock in the western and central Gulf of Alaska. Additionally, the work may, time permitting, include investigation of spatio-temporal patterns of arrowtooth flounder and walleye pollock abundance and body size in relation to abiotic variables (e.g., water depth and temperature, and bathymetry) using time series (September 2000 - 2013 dataset, odd years only). Ability to work with large data sets and familiarity with zooplankton ecology is recommended.
Special skills/training required: 1) Ability to think critically 2) Sound writing skills 3) Statistical knowledge (optional) 4) Basic trophic ecology The student will learn approaches to trophic and spatial ecology, methods of data synthesis and data visualization, oral and written communication skills, and how to apply data derived from biological surveys to questions of ecosystem functioning.
Expected outcomes: Presentation of results to a scientific audience. Written report of methodology, results, and ecological interpretation. Multi-disciplinary collaboration (physical oceanographers, biologists, ecologists, statisticians).
Point of contact (Mentor): Matt Wilson
Organization: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Program office: AFSC, RACE Division
Mailing address: 7600 Sand Point Way Ne, Bldg 4
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone number: 206-526-6522
Fax number: None
Co-Mentor name: Matt Wilson
Co-Mentor email:
Co-Mentor gency or organization: NMFS/AFSC/RACE Division
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