EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments

EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments

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Trophic pathways supporting Arctic Grayling in a small stream on the Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska

Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) are widely distributed on the Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) of Alaska, and are one of the few upper level consumers in streams, but the trophic pathways and food resources supporting these fish are unknown. Grayling migrate each summer into small beaded streams, which are common across the landscape on the ACP, and appear to be crucial foraging grounds for these and other fishes. I investigated prey resources supporting different size classes of grayling in a beaded stream, Crea Creek, where petroleum development is being planned. The specific objectives were to measure terrestrial prey subsidies entering the stream, quantify prey ingested by Arctic Grayling and Ninespine Stickleback (Pungitius pungitius), determine if riparian plant species affect the quantity of terrestrial invertebrates ingested by grayling, and determine if prey size and type ingested were a function of predator size. Results indicated that small grayling (< 15 cm fork length (FL)) consumed mostly aquatic invertebrates (caddisflies, midges, and blackflies) early in the summer, and increasing quantities of terrestrial invertebrates (wasps, beetles, and spiders) later in summer, while larger fish (> 15 cm FL) foraged most heavily on stickleback. Riparian plant species influenced the quantity of terrestrial invertebrates entering the stream, however these differences were not reflected in fish diets. This study showed that grayling can be both highly insectivorous and piscivorous, depending upon fish size class, and that both aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and especially stickleback, are the main prey of grayling. These results highlight the importance of beaded streams as summer foraging habitats for grayling. Understanding prey flow dynamics in these poorly studied aquatic habitats, prior to further petroleum development and simultaneous climate change, establishes essential baseline information to interpret if and how these freshwater ecosystems may respond to a changing Arctic environment.

Data and Resources

  • View website
    Website :: Publisher's Website

    https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/handle/11122/5752

Status: Complete
Type: Project
Data Types: Report
Primary Contact
Clucas, Tania
Email: thclucas@alaska.edu
Primary Agency
EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments
Type
Academic

Funding Agency
EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments
Type
Academic

Other Agencies
National Science Foundation

ISO Topics
environment

Geo-keywords
Alaska

Direct Record Link
http://epscor.portal.gina.alaska.edu/catalogs/11823-trophic-pathways-supporting-arctic-grayling-in
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Published by Lisa
    2017-01-12 11:50:36 -0900
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Updated by Lisa
    2017-01-12 11:50:31 -0900
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Updated by Lisa
    2017-01-12 11:49:23 -0900
  • A01710a84bb2b48878decca075ee597f
    New record created
    2016-12-14 08:00:36 -0900
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