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Walrus distributional and foraging response to changing ice and benthic conditions in the Chukchi Sea

North Pacific Research Board Project Final Report 818

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Abstract

Arctic species such as the Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) are facing a rapidly changing environment. Walruses are benthic foragers and may shift their spatial patterns of foraging in response to changes in prey distribution. We used data from satellite radio-tags attached to walruses in 2009-2010 to map walrus foraging locations with concurrent sampling of benthic infauna to examine relationships between distributions of dominant walrus prey and spatial patterns of walrus foraging. Walrus foraging was concentrated offshore in the NE Chukchi Sea, and coastal areas of northwestern Alaska when sea ice was sparse. Walrus foraging areas in August-September were coincident with the biomass of two dominant bivalve taxa (Tellinidae and Nuculidae) and sipunculid worms. Walrusforaging costs associated with increased travel time to higher biomass food patches from land may be significantly higher than the costs from sea ice haul-outs and result in reduced energy storesin walruses. Identifying what resources are selected by walruses and how those resources are distributed in space and time will improve our ability to forecast how walruses might respond to a changing climate.

Geospatial Extents

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
Organization Series
Title:
Walrus distributional and foraging response to changing ice and benthic conditions in the Chukchi Sea
Series title:
North Pacific Research Board Project Final Report
Series number:
818
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
North Pacific Research Board
Contributing office(s):
Alaska Science Center
Description:
32 p.
Country:
Russia;United States
Other Geospatial:
Chukchi Sea
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
Y