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Exploitation dynamics of small fish stocks like Arctic cisco

January 1, 2004

Potential impacts to the Arctic cisco population fall into both demographic and behavioral categories. Possible demographic impacts include stock recruitment effects, limited escapement into marine habitats, and variable age-class reproductive success. Potential behavioral impacts involve migratory patterns, variable life histories, and strategies for seasonal feeding. Arctic cisco stocks are highly susceptible to over-exploitation due to our limited basic knowledge of the highly variable Arctic environment and the role they play in this dynamic ecosystem.

Our knowledge of potential demographic changes is very limited, and it is necessary to determine the abundance and recruitment of the hypothesized Mackenzie River source population, the extent of the coastal migratory corridor, growth patterns, and coastal upwelling and mixing effects on population dynamics for this species. Information needed to answer some of the demographic questions includes basic evolutionary history and molecular genetics of Arctic cisco (for instance, are there contributions to the Arctic cisco stock from the Yukon?), what is the effective population size (i.e., breeding population size), and potential links to changes in climate.

The basic behavioral questions include migratory and variable life history questions. For instance, the extent of movement back and forth between freshwater and the sea, age-specific differences in food web dynamics, and nearshore brackish and high salinity habitats are topics that should be studied. Life history data should be gathered to understand the variation in age at reproduction, salinity tolerance, scale and duration of the freshwater stage, survival, and adult migration.

Both molecular and ecological tools should be integrated to manage the Arctic cisco stock(s), such as understanding global climate changes on patterns of harvest and recruitment, and the genetics of population structure and colonization. Perhaps other populations are contributing to the population within the Colville River other than only the Mackenzie River population. This needs further exploration. By examining otolith microchemistry, unique transitions from freshwater to sea can be identified for these stocks. This may shed light on why some fish arrive at the mouth of the Colville River, while others don’t.

Publication Year 2004
Title Exploitation dynamics of small fish stocks like Arctic cisco
Authors Jennifer L. Nielsen
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Series Number MMS 2004-033
Index ID 70187947
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center