A synopsis of PROBES



The Processes and Resources of the Bering Sea Shelf (PROBES) project is a 6-year multi-institutional (University of Alaska, Florida State University, University of Washington, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Southwest Fisheries Center, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences) interdisciplinary study designed to understand the processes that contribute to the production of enormous numbers of animals (including crabs, fish, birds, mammals) in secondary and higher trophic levels in the vast Bering Sea continental shelf. The research plan is based on the hypothesis that the broad shallow shelf leads to an oceanographic structure of a semi-permanent front-interfront system in which phytoplankton primary production is coupled to a pelagic food web over the outer shelf and to a benthic food web in the middle shelf (see cover, this issue). The project has concentrated on the processes that control the survival of the early life history stages of the Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma Pallas) as an example of mass and energy transfer in the pelagic system. PROBES began in 1976 and is sponsored by the Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation.