The foraging ecology of Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) during open water (July–August) in Allen Bay, Arctic Canada

Abstract

Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) is a schooling fish providing a critical link between lower and upper trophic levels in the Arctic. This study examined foraging of Arctic cod collected from Allen Bay, Cornwallis Island, Canada (~75 N 95 W), during summer 2010 using temporal indicators of diet including stomach content, and carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotopes of liver and muscle. Foraging at the time of capture reflected sympagic and epi-benthic habitats indicated by the prevalence of cyclopoid and harpacticoid copepods in stomachs, whereas stable isotope data, which provide an estimate of feeding over a longer period, indicated pelagic prey as important. Prey selection of juveniles differed from adults based on stable isotopes, while large adults showed the most separation based on stomach contents, suggesting size-related diet shifts. Compared to studies near Resolute in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, growth and pre-spawning gonadal conditions of Arctic cod have not changed.

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Acknowledgments

We thank D. Overgaard for assistance collecting samples and A. Hussey for processing samples for stable isotopes. We would also like to thank K. Gardiner, O. Friesen, M. Martens, R. McDonald, and M. Guzzo for advice and technical support, C. Szumski for SIBER assistance, R. Wastle for aging techniques, W. Walkusz for zooplankton identification, and H. Hop for additional data. This research would not have been possible without the use of the Polar Continental Shelf Base and their staff including M. Bergmann, Y. Laroche, B. Eckalook, J. MacGregor, and M. Kristjanson, as well as the Hunters and Trappers Organization of Resolute Bay. We are especially grateful to reviewers for providing comprehensive and insightful comments that greatly improved the quality of this publication. Funding was provided by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), in association with the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) to T. Dick and A. Fisk. Finally, we acknowledge the Kenneth M. Molson Foundation and the Faculty of Science at the University of Manitoba for additional funding.

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Correspondence to Terry A. Dick.

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Communicated by D. Righton.

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Matley, J.K., Fisk, A.T. & Dick, T.A. The foraging ecology of Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) during open water (July–August) in Allen Bay, Arctic Canada. Mar Biol 160, 2993–3004 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2289-2

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Keywords

  • Stable Isotope
  • Stomach Content
  • Fork Length
  • Prey Selection
  • Diet Item