Map of study area from Timing of ice retreat alters seabird abundances and distributions in the southeast Bering Sea
2016-09-13T07:41:03Z (GMT) by
Timing of spring sea-ice retreat shapes the southeast Bering Sea food web. We compared summer seabird densities and average bathymetry depth-distributions between years with early (typically warm) and late (typically cold) ice-retreat. Averaged over all seabird species, densities in early-ice-retreat-years were 10.1% (95%CI: 1.1–47.9%) of that in late-ice-retreat-years. In early-ice-retreat-years, surface-foraging species had increased numbers over the middle shelf (50–150 m) and reduced numbers over the shelf slope (200–500 m). Pursuit-diving seabirds showed a less clear trend. Euphausiids and the copepod <i>Calanus marshallae/glacialis</i> were 2.4 and 18.1 times less abundant in early-ice-retreat-years, respectively, whereas age-0 walleye pollock <i>Gadus chalcogrammus</i> near-surface densities were 51× higher in early-ice-retreat-years. Our results suggest a mechanistic understanding of how present and future changes in sea-ice-retreat timing may affect top predators like seabirds in the southeastern Bering Sea.