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April-June 2006
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Taxonomy, Distribution, and Abundance of Early Life History Stages of Marine Fishes in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea

photo of bongo net deployment
Bongo gear deployment during EcoFOCI late larval cruise, May 2005. Photo by Ingrid Spies.

The Recruitment Processes Program at the AFSC has been studying the early-life-history (ELH) stages of fish (eggs, larvae, and early juveniles) since 1965. Our studies, conducted off the U.S. West Coast, in the Gulf of Alaska, the eastern Bering Sea, and within some of the most diverse and commercially valuable ecosystems in the world, depend on the collection and identification of samples of fish eggs and larvae (ichthyoplankton). These tiny creatures, most of which are less than an inch in length, help us answer important questions about the status of our ecosystem. Information about AFSC ichthyoplankton samples comprises a comprehensive dataset of locality, distribution, and abundance information for ichthyoplankton in the Northeast Pacific and Bering Sea in addition to an invaluable collection of specimens. 

The consolidation of data, as well as data from other sources both within and outside of the AFSC, form the backbone of the Ichthyoplankton Information System (IIS). The IIS is an online, interactive, searchable information system that is updated routinely. The IIS consolidates ichthyoplankton ELH data from 1972 to 2003, representing almost 300 taxa in a single web site, and provides up-to-date information on the ELH of fishes in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. The IIS serves as a versatile tool for a broad user base including scientists in taxonomic and systematic research, ecologists in larval fish identification, federal resource managers in preparing biological opinions, federal scientists in determining essential and critical habitats, environmental consultants, students, educators, and more.

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