Arctic Cod (<i>Boreogadus saida</i>) as Prey: Fish Length-Energetics Relationships in the Beaufort Sea and Hudson Bay

  • B. Britten Harter
  • Kyle H. Elliott
  • George J. Divoky
  • Gail K. Davoren
Keywords: Arctic, energetics, Arctic cod, marine predators, energy density, seabirds

Abstract

Although Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) is widely recognized as an important trophic link to top predators in Arctic marine ecosystems, the challenges of conducting fieldwork in the Arctic make this species difficult to study. We establish some basic relationships to improve prey energetics modeling when only in-field parameters (e.g., fork length) can be measured. We investigated the intraspecific relationships among energy density, fork length, mass, and water content for Arctic cod captured by Black Guillemots and Thick-billed Murres at two sites (Western Beaufort and Hudson Bay). Dry energy density was similar between sites (21.6 – 22.2 kJ g-1) and increased with fork length (Dry EDkJ/g = 0.028 (± 0.01) • Fork Lengthmm + 18.12 (± 1.33). Even though fish lost some water as they were transported to the nest by avian predators, wet energy density also increased with fork length. We suggest that environmental conditions had a similar effect on growth at these two locations although they occur in very different oceanographic regimes. Arctic cod, especially large cod, is one of the most energy-rich prey species in the Arctic. Our results highlight the importance of this valuable prey to Arctic ecosystems and the utility of using seabirds opportunistically as samplers of the marine environment.

Published
2013-06-05