The goal of monitoring studies is to acquire observations of physical, chemical and biological aspects of the environment to investigate interannual variability over an extended period of time. These time-series serve several purposes: 1) they provide the observational basis to develop indices either directly related to zooplankton success or to the success of their predators and prey; 2) they allow comparisons among habitats and years; and 3) they provide an environmental data base complimentary to modeling and process oriented studies.

The first objectives are to establish those aspects of the environment which indicate or significantly influence the status of zooplankton populations; and identify where critical or pulse-points of the system exist. This can be achieved using existing knowledge of the ecosystem augmented by retrospective and modeling studies.

In the southeastern Bering Sea, physical processes and topography results in several domains that provide different conditions/habitats for zooplankton and thereby are candidates for monitoring:

Instruments on existing moored platforms can provide single or multiple point time-series of atmospheric and oceanographic parameters, including: downwelling irradiance, wind, air and water temperature, salinity, nitrate, currents, calibrated acoustic backscatter, and detritus. Satellite-tracked buoys and shipboard surveys expand the limited spatial scale of moored current, temperature and ocean color observations. The addition of efficient underway sampling during the ongoing annual bottom-trawl and tri-annual hydroacoustic surveys of the eastern shelf conducted by the AFSC provides an excellent opportunity to enhance the Bering Sea monitoring effort. Close coordination with ongoing Japanese research provides similar opportunities.

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