Target species were chosen to represent key elements of the holoplanktonic
assemblages on the Bering Sea shelf and their pelagic predators. The program
focuses on copepods and euphausiids, their pelagic prey and predators. Since
the main question focuses on how climate affects the carrying capacity, the
program targets the dominant species within the ecosystem. Additional criteria
used to select key species included the following:
Based on these criteria, the following key species were identified for the
Bering Sea program.
- Likely to be impacted under hypothetical climate change scenarios.
- Economically or ecologically important
- Evidence that life history variability is linked to environmental variability.
- Widely distributed, providing opportunity for regional comparisons.
- Life-histories and/or ecological interactions representative of many other species.
- Demonstrated evidence of long-term shifts in abundance.
- Distribution associated with physical features and/or faunal boundaries.
- Analogous species occur in other ecosystems.
Zooplankton: Copepods: (Calanus marshallae, Neocalanus cristatus, N. plumchrus,
Pseudocalanus spp., and Oithona spp.); Euphausiids (Thysanoessa longipes, T.
inermis, T. raschii)
Seabirds: Least auklet (Aethia cristatella)
Pelagic Fish Stocks: walleye pollock, Pacific herring (Clupea harengus
pallasi); sockeye salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon
Non-Commercial Forage Fish: capelin (Mallotus villosus), sand lance (Ammodytes
hexapterus), myctophid and bathylagid fishes
Other Invertebrates: "Jellyfish" (scyphozans and hydrozoans), cephalopods, and
Several other important species/species groups were identified because they may
play an important role in controlling the abundance or distribution of key
predators on zooplankton or might be sensitive indicators of changes in
abundance or distribution of key planktivores. These species include: Northern
fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus), kittiwakes (Rissa), murres (Uria), piscivorous
flatfish, Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus).