Current projects

Resource Management and Human Dimensions of Fisheries

Social and ecological consequences of regulatory change in the Alaska recreational halibut fishery

Homer Spit_photo by Anne Beaudreau

Halibut sculpture on Homer Spit, a popular recreational fishing area. Photo by Anne Beaudreau.

Abstract: Recreational fishing contributes approximately $1.4 billion per year to coastal communities in Alaska. This study examines patterns of resource use and behavioral responses of the recreational charter sector to regulatory, environmental, and socioeconomic changes in Alaska halibut and salmon fisheries over the last three decades. This information will provide managers and stakeholders with a better understanding of how future changes will affect the welfare of fishing communities in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.

Project summary.

  • Research team: Maggie Chan (PhD student); Anne Beaudreau (PI); Phil Loring (Co-PI); Richard Yamada, Scott Meyer (Collaborators)
  • Organizations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Saskatchewan, Alaska Reel Adventures, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • Funders: NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Program, NSF-IGERT Marine Ecosystem Sustainability in the Arctic and Subarctic, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Saskatchewan
  • Publications: Chan et al. 2017, Chan et al. 2018, Beaudreau et al. 2018. Click here for full citations.

Using expert knowledge to understand long-term ecological change in coastal Alaska and perceptions of management (2 related projects)

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Fishing for rockfish near Sitka. Photo by Rhea Ehresmann.

Abstract: This project uses expert knowledge, in combination with scientific data, to provide information for managing Alaska’s nearshore fisheries. Through interviews with resource users and managers, we are assessing long-term trends in abundance and body size for groundfish, salmon, and crab species. Our research also aims to understand fishermen’s views about management of nearshore rockfishes, including current efficacy, opportunities for engagement, and concerns for the future.

A film by the research team about the project.

See previous project for partial summary.

  • Research team: Jesse Gordon (MS student); Maggie Chan (PhD student); Anne Beaudreau (PI); Ben Williams, Scott Meyer, Phil Loring (Co-PIs); Courtney Carothers (Collaborator)
  • Organizations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Saskatchewan, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • Funders: North Pacific Research Board, Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska Sea Grant, NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Program
  • Publications: Chan et al. 2018. Click here for full citation.

Climate change impacts on access to coastal resources by subsistence harvesters in Arctic National Parks: Implications for NPS management

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Ice fishing in Kotzebue. People harvest a variety of subsistence resources in northwestern Alaska, including caribou, bearded seal (ugruk), beluga, salmon, sheefish, and other whitefish. Photo by Kristen Green.

Abstract: Human access routes to coastal subsistence resources are being altered or eliminated in the Arctic as temperatures warm. This project aims to understand how climate change is affecting subsistence users’ access to marine resources in coastal Western Arctic (WEAR) National Parklands. The results will help NPS anticipate shifts in subsistence use in WEAR Parklands with climate change and provide a foundation for adaptive management of access to marine subsistence resources.

1-page summary

preliminary results

  • Research team: Kristen Green (co-PI / PhD student); Anne Beaudreau (co-PI); Hannah Atkinson, Savannah Fletcher, Maija Lukin, Alex Whiting, Siikauraq Whiting (Collaborators)
  • Organizations: Stanford University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, National Park Service, Native Village of Kotzebue, Northwest Arctic Borough
  • Funders: National Park Service, Stanford University, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Publications & press: Green et al. 2019. Click here for full citation.

Fish Ecology and Coastal Food Webs

Food webs in flux: Tracking community shifts and energy flow in glacially-influenced estuaries undergoing rapid change (3 related projects)

Seining_photo by Maggie Chan

Volunteers haul a beach seine onto Eagle Beach. If you look closely, you can see starry flounder and other small fish in the net. Photo by Maggie Chan.

Abstract: Along the Gulf of Alaska, rapidly receding glaciers and changes in precipitation are driving shifts in freshwater discharge and the transport of nutrients to coastal ecosystems. To understand how changes in watersheds will impact the nutrition, growth, and survival of nearshore marine species, we are studying the community structure and trophic ecology of nearshore fishes in estuaries along a glacial to non-glacial watershed gradient. In one study, we examined the extent to which juvenile salmon and other fish species rely on terrestrial, freshwater, and marine sources of organic matter. In another, we assessed patterns of predation on hatchery chum salmon by two abundant estuary consumers to inform hatchery release strategies that reduce predation risk to smolts and provide an improved understanding of ecological factors affecting the early marine survival of salmon (1-page summary).

  • Research team: Nina Lundstrom, Douglas Duncan, Emily Whitney (MS students); Anne Beaudreau (PI); Carolyn Bergstrom, Allison Bidlack, Eran Hood, Jason Fellman, Brenda Konar, Sanjay Pyare (Collaborators)
  • Organizations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast
  • Funders: Alaska EPSCoR (NSF); Alaska Sea Grant; Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc.
  • Publications & press: Whitney et al. 2017a, Whitney et al. 2017b, Duncan and Beaudreau 2019. Click here for full citations.

This project is currently a component of “Fire and Ice: Navigating Variability in Boreal Wildfire Regimes and Subarctic Coastal Ecosystems,” a 5-year, $20 million effort by NSF-funded Alaska EPSCoR to study two major Alaskan regions undergoing climate-driven change. Anne is a member of the Alaska EPSCoR leadership team.

Pacific staghorn sculpin_photo by Emily Whitney

A handful of staghorn sculpins, one of the most common species in Juneau-area estuaries. Staghorn sculpins may be small, but with those big mouths they have a large capacity to eat. Photo by Emily Whitney.

Research on juvenile sablefish ecology (3 related projects)

Juvenile sablefish_photo by Kari Fenske

A juvenile sablefish has just been implanted with a yellow tag by the research team and will be released back into St. John Baptist Bay, near Baranof Island. Photo by Kari Fenske.

Abstract: Sablefish support a lucrative commercial fishery in the Gulf of Alaska; however, recent declines in sablefish biomass have led to a need for management-relevant information about factors affecting their population productivity. The conditions that juvenile sablefish experience in nearshore rearing habitats during their first few years of life may be fundamentally important in determining year class strength. Therefore, this project is evaluating movement patterns, habitat use, and foraging strategies by juvenile sablefish in nearshore bays in Southeast Alaska to better understand the factors affecting their growth and survival.

  • Research team: Matt Callahan, Rhea Ehresmann, Karson Coutre (MS students); Anne Beaudreau (PI); Kristen Green, Ron Heintz (co-PIs); Dean Courtney, Dana Hanselman, Pat Malecha, Franz Mueter, Tom Rutecki (Collaborators)
  • Organizations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
  • Funders: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, North Pacific Research Board, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
  • Publications: Coutre et al. 2015, Coutre et al. 2017, Ehresmann et al. 2018. Click here for full citations.

Ecological interactions among arrowtooth flounder, Pacific halibut, and walleye pollock in the Gulf of Alaska

Arrowtooth flounder_photo by Anne Beaudreau

A juvenile arrowtooth flounder, awaiting retrieval of its stomach contents. The team is studying the diets of predatory arrowtooth flounder, whose population is booming in the Gulf of Alaska. Photo by Anne Beaudreau.

Abstract: Pacific halibut supports valuable commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries throughout the Gulf of Alaska. Declining halibut abundance and size over the past two decades have led to increased restrictions for commercial and sport fisheries. One of the prevailing hypotheses to explain observed declines in size-at-age of halibut is competition for shared resources with a burgeoning population of arrowtooth flounder. This project is examining resource partitioning between arrowtooth flounder and Pacific halibut to better understand their potential competition for shared prey, including walleye pollock.

1-page summary, update

  • Research team: Cheryl Barnes (PhD student); Anne Beaudreau (PI); Mary Hunsicker, Richard Yamada, Lorenzo Ciannelli (co-PIs); Martin Dorn, Kirstin Holsman (Collaborators)
  • Organizations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Alaska Reel Adventures, Oregon State University
  • Funders: Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center, Rasmuson Foundation, Northern Gulf of Alaska Applied Research Award
  • Publications: Barnes et al. 2018. Click here for full citations.

Developing an index of predation to improve the assessment of walleye pollock in the Gulf of Alaska

Abstract: Multiple studies have revealed the importance of predation to pollock population dynamics in the Gulf of Alaska; however, natural mortality is set at a fixed value in the pollock stock assessment, which could lead to inaccurate biomass and yield projections. We are developing an index of predation for application to the Gulf of Alaska pollock stock assessment that accounts for changes in predator-prey interactions over time and space in response to environmental conditions such as temperature.

  • Research team: Cheryl Barnes (PhD student); Anne Beaudreau (PI); Martin Dorn, Mary Hunsicker (co-PIs); Lorenzo Ciannelli, Kirstin Holsman, Richard Yamada (Collaborators)
  • Organizations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Alaska Reel Adventures, Oregon State University
  • Funders: Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center, Rasmuson Foundation, Northern Gulf of Alaska Applied Research Award

Linkages between habitat quality and productivity of Afognak Lake sockeye salmon

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Picking the net at Afognak Lake (Litnik). We caught juvenile sockeye salmon, threespine stickleback, and other species using a beach seine for a study of salmon feeding ecology. Photo by Michael Bach.

Abstract: The Afognak Lake sockeye salmon run has historically supported the largest subsistence salmon fishery on Afognak Island and the second largest in the Kodiak Archipelago. In recent years, declining productivity of Afognak sockeye salmon led to a renewed interest in factors affecting their growth and survival. This project synthesized a 25-year time series of limnological and biological data to evaluate drivers of prey supply for juvenile sockeye and juvenile sockeye body condition during the freshwater rearing period. We also conducted a field study to identify the prey resources that are important to juvenile sockeye and an abundant potential competitor, threespine stickleback, in Afognak Lake.

  • Research team: Natura Richardson (MS student); Anne Beaudreau (PI); Heather Finkle (co-PI); Mark Wipfli (Collaborator)
  • Organizations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Funders: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Publications: Richardson et al. 2016. Click here for full citation.

 

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