Marine Biology

, Volume 144, Issue 3, pp 515–526 | Cite as

Foraging impact on zooplankton by age-0 walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) around a front in the southeast Bering Sea

  • L. Ciannelli
  • R. D. Brodeur
  • J. M. Napp
Research Article


The waters around the Pribilof Islands in the southeast Bering Sea are a center of abundance for age-0 walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma). Each spring and summer a tidal front is formed around the islands separating a well-mixed inshore habitat from a stratified offshore habitat. The objective of this study was to assess the foraging impact on zooplankton by age-0 pollock in the vicinity of this frontal structure. A bioenergetic model was used to estimate age-0 pollock food consumption from field estimates of water temperature, age-0 pollock density, diet and growth. Sampling of field variables took place over three hydrographic habitats along an inshore–offshore transect located north of the islands. The bioenergetics analysis was applied for a 2-week period during the late summer of four consecutive years, 1994–1997. Model results of age-0 pollock food consumption indicated variable levels of food depletion, changing with prey type, year and habitat. The foraging impact of age-0 pollock on copepods and euphausiids (most common prey) ranged from about 3% to 77% of the biomass available at the start of the simulation. Copepod depletion was typically greater than euphausiid depletion. Consequently, juvenile pollock <60 mm in standard length were more likely to experience food limitation due to the greater proportion of copepods in their diet. We present evidence of severe foraging impact during 1996, when one of the primary prey items of juvenile pollock (i.e. large copepods) was scarcely represented both in their diet and in the water column. In all years, most instances of prey depletion were found at the inshore and front habitats; age-0 pollock densities were too low relative to their prey to severely impact the offshore zooplankton populations. We discuss these results with respect to modeling assumptions and in the context of previously acquired knowledge of fish behavior around frontal regions.


Walleye Pollock Bioenergetic Model Prey Biomass Small Copepod Theragra Chalcogramma 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to the crew of the NOAA ship “Miller Freeman” for help provided in fish collection, and in particular to M. Wilson for assisting in the field. Comments from D. Beauchamp, T. Hurst, G. Swartzman and two anonymous reviewers improved earlier drafts of this manuscript. This research was sponsored by NOAA’s Coastal Ocean through Southeast Bering Sea Carrying Capacity and is contribution S442 to Fisheries–Oceanography Coordinated Investigations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSchool of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Hatfield Marine Science CenterNOAA/Northwest Fisheries Science CenterNewportUSA
  3. 3.Alaska Fisheries Sciences CenterNOAASeattleUSA

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