Wakefield Symposium Day Two: High latitude ecosystem collapses

Anchorage 5/10/17, Hotel Captain Cook

Day Two included several more interesting international insights from invited speakers, and what I would consider shocking disclosures from some Alaska researchers I have known for years. UAA bird expert Doug Causey was on the schedule but I hadn’t seen him there. He popped in the door just before his talk. He explained to me afterwards that he’s been down the street at the Denaina Center at another gathering on “Arctic Security.” I can only imagine. He hustled out the door moments later. I’ll look into it later, I’m sure it’s important.

Here is what Doug said. Up in the high arctic, the food web is unraveling. This is based on stable isotopes, so it’s solid. It shows that a few years ago, the birds off the west coast of Greenland were part of an elegant and complex relationship with their prey and the things their prey ate, and so forth. Now, that fabulous web has become vastly simplified. Far fewer connections. It looks as if new predators are moving in from the south.

Here’s another one. UAF’s Franz Mueter having to stand in front of this audience of fish heads and say the nation’s largest fishery is about to go into a severe decline, or collapse. There are no indicators that the Bering Sea Pollock stock will recover from its inability to recruit. The “cold pool” on the Bering Sea Shelf, which protected juvenile Pollock from predation, is no more (as we reported earlier on this site,) there is nothing to indicate that the stocks will be able to find new habitat to the north, as the stocks to the south apparently are being decimated by predation by Arrowtooth Flounder. Maybe all this will come up at next month’s meeting of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in Juneau, but I wouldn’t bet on it. This year’s Bering Sea Pollock quota was nearly 3 and 1/2 Million metric tons.


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