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Change in feeding ecology and trophic dynamics of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in the central Gulf of Alaska in relation to climate events




The effects of climate events on the feeding ecology and trophic dynamics of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in offshore waters of the central Gulf of Alaska were investigated during early summers (1994–2000), based on analyses of stomach contents, and carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N). Gonatid squids (mainly Berryteuthis anonychus) were the dominant prey of all salmon species except for chum salmon (O. keta). During the 1997 El Niño event and the 1999 La Niña event, squids decreased sharply in the diets of all Pacific salmon except coho salmon (O. kisutch) in the Subarctic Current, and chum salmon diets changed from gelatinous zooplankton (1995–97) to a more diverse array of zooplankton species. A δ13C and δ15N analysis indicated that all salmon species occupied the same branch of the food web in 1999–2000. We hypothesize that high-seas salmon adapt to climate-induced changes in their prey resources by switching their diets either within or between trophic levels. To understand the effects of climate change on Pacific salmon in the Gulf of Alaska, biological oceanographic research on B. anonychus and other important prey resources is needed.