Mollusks in the Northeastern Chukchi Sea
Keywords:Animal distribution, Animal food, Animal population, Bottom sediments, Chemical properties, Marine ecology, Mollusks, Oceanography, Polynyas, Predation, Salinity, Seals (Animals), Submarine topography, Walruses, Biomass, Chukchi Sea
Infaunal and epifaunal mollusks of the northeastern Chukchi Sea were sampled and 139 molluscan taxa were identified. The pattern of spatial distribution of molluscan species was determined by cluster analysis, which resulted in six infaunal and five epifaunal station groups. Species characterizing various faunal groups are defined. Stepwise multiple discriminant analysis was applied to correlate benthic biological associations with environmental variables. Delineation of infaunal groups was mainly due to percentage of sand and bottom salinity, while epifaunal groups were separated by percent gravel and bottom temperature. An increase in abundance and biomass of infaunal mollusks occurred adjacent to and north and northwest of an identified bottom front between the Bering Shelf and Resident Chukchi Water and Alaska Coastal Water. Epifaunal molluscan abundance and biomass were highest near the coast. Mollusks, especially smaller species and the juvenile stages of larger species, represent a food resource for bottom-feeding predators in the study area.
Key words: Chukchi Sea, mollusk, benthic, infauna, epifauna, bottom front, bottom-feeding predators, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis