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REFM Scientists Attend 2014 Alaska Marine Science Symposium

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Several researchers from the REFM division presented their work at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium (AMSS) held in Anchorage, Alaska, during January 2014. The AMSS is an annual event that brings together marine scientists from a wide variety of disciplines working across marine Alaska. Symposium events are structured around different Alaska marine ecosystems, with one day each devoted to Arctic, Bering Sea/ Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska issues. The meeting kicks off with an afternoon of keynote addresses, which this year included revisiting the Exxon Valdez oil spill and a discussion of cooperative industry/government design of fishing gears that reduce bycatch. Below is a brief summary of the work presented by REFM personnel; the full abstracts for all of the AMSS presentations can be found at

  • Kirstin Holsman presented a poster (.pdf, 1.35 mb) that described her studies of potential climate-change effects on ecosystem dynamics in the Bering Sea. Her presented work was a subset of a larger modeling effort that involves applying scaled-down climate projections from global models to ecosystem models of the Bering Sea. Her model estimates of changes in prey demand by key groundfish predators are consistent with observed diet patterns and demonstrate how future changes in physical properties such as water temperature may be transmitted through the ecosystem and influence the ecology of commercial fish species.

  • The poster (.pdf, 14.8 mb) presented by Matt Baker focused on patterns of marine species distribution and abundance in the eastern Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and Aleutian Islands. Matt’s research is designed to understand how communities of marine organisms are arranged spatially, the key physical and biological drivers of those patterns, and how communities change over time. Random forest statistical approaches were used to explore the effects of physical drivers on biological communities, while dynamic factor analysis was used to distinguish common underlying trends of species.

  • Susanne McDermott’s poster (.pdf, 3.87 mb) described the latest component of a long-term tagging study of Atka mackerel in the Aleutian Islands. This effort focused on the central Aleutians and suggests limited spatial movement by individuals. This project is providing insight into Atka mackerel population dynamics as well as the availability of mackerel as prey for Steller sea lions.

  • The poster (.pdf, 362 kb) by Todd TenBrink and Tom Wilderbuer presented the results of maturity research on commercially-important flatfishes.  Maturity ogives (that describe the portion of a population that is sexually mature at a given age) are an important element of fish population dynamics and stock assessment. This work provided data that will be used to improve the assessments of yellowfin sole, Alaska plaice, and flathead sole.

  • Olav Ormseth made several presentations related to his work on the Gulf of Alaska Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (GOAIERP). He gave an overview talk about the GOAIERP, which wrapped up its last field year in 2013 and will be analyzing and synthesizing data over the next few years. He also presented a poster describing two small-scale oceanographic moorings he placed in nearshore waters during 2013.

By Olav Ormseth

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