Attributes of the Eastern Chukchi Sea Food Web with Comparisons to Three Northern Marine Ecosystems
There is growing recognition that the Arctic is threatened by multiple human impacts including climate change and increased activities resulting from greater access due to retreating sea ice. Arctic sea ice cover has declined about 3% per decade over the satellite record (1979-present), with the six lowest annual sea ice minima occurring in the last 6 years (2007-12). The Alaska Arctic contains large petroleum reserves, and human activities related to energy extraction are expected to increase in the near future. Further reductions in the extent of Arctic sea ice could improve access for the oil and shipping industries and also has spurred interest in understanding what changes in sea ice coverage could mean for future Arctic fisheries. The Alaska Arctic is presently home to several subsistence fisheries and marine mammal harvests. The development of new commercial fisheries in the Alaska Arctic is currently prohibited by the Arctic Fishery Management Plan until sufficient research has been conducted to allow for adequate evaluation of the ecological impact of commercial fishing. Thus, there is great need for the development of modeling and other decision-support tools that can synthesize existing knowledge of Arctic marine ecosystems and foster an improved understanding of ecosystem structure, function, and sensitivity to human activities.