In Arctic Alaska, Dolly Varden Salvelinus malma is highly valued as a subsistence fish; however, little is known about oceanic dispersal or ecology. This study addresses this knowledge gap, by using a fisheries independent method, pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs). In spring of 2012 and 2013, we attached 52 PSATs to Dolly Varden in a river in northwestern Alaska, which flows into the Arctic Ocean, to examine the marine dispersal, behavior and habitat occupancy of this species. Tagged Dolly Varden demonstrated two types of dispersal, including offshore and nearshore dispersal. The offshore type was the first documented northwesterly dispersal and occupancy of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas of the Russian Chukchi Sea. While occupying this area, tagged Dolly Varden demonstrated affinity for the first 5 m of the water column, diel patterns in depth occupancy, and dive depths of up to 50 m, while experiencing a thermal environment of generally 3–7°C. During the nearshore dispersal type, Dolly Varden transited in coastal areas of northwest Alaska, likely returning to their natal rivers to spawn. While in nearshore areas, tagged Dolly Varden always occupied shallow waters (< 6 m), and experienced a rapidly changing thermal environment (± 15°C), including some waters temperatures cooler than -1°C. This study demonstrates that PSATs offer an alternative and effective platform with which to study several aspects of large adult Dolly Varden dispersal and ecology in areas where it is not practical or feasible to capture these fish, such as in coastal and offshore regions of Arctic Alaska. Additionally, the results of this study have increased our knowledge of the summer marine distribution, behavior and thermal environment of Dolly Varden in Arctic regions of Alaska, and this knowledge is important to several stake holders for the conservation of this important subsistence species.
|Advisor:||Seitz, Andrew C.|
|Commitee:||Scanlon, Brendan, Zimmerman, Christian|
|School:||University of Alaska Fairbanks|
|School Location:||United States -- Alaska|
|Source:||MAI 54/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Aquatic sciences|
|Keywords:||Chukchi sea, Depth, Dispersal, Dolly varden, Pop-up satellite archival tags, Temperature|
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