, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 402-421
Date: 15 Dec 2004

Southeastern Chukchi Sea (Alaska) epibenthos

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Abstract

Epibenthos of the southeastern Chukchi Sea, inclusive of Kotzebue Sound, was sampled in 1976. Crustaceans dominated abundance while echinoderms, mainly sea stars, dominated biomass. Spatial distribution of fauna was determined by cluster analysis. Scavenger-predators were dominant trophic groups, although suspension feeders dominated some regions. Unexpected high abundance and biomass under Alaska Coastal Water and factors related to presence and distribution of fauna are discussed. Dissimilarities between the benthic systems of the southeastern and northeastern Chukchi Seas are attributed to more complex water mass and flow patterns in the southern system. Entrained particulate organic carbon disperses through the area to support an abundant and apparently highly productive benthic fauna, which sustains resident and transient populations of demersal fishes and marine mammals. Epibenthos was sampled again in 1998 and, although little change was apparent in community composition, many taxa had higher abundance and biomass than 22 years earlier, a trend similar to findings observed in the northeastern Bering Sea.