Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8368
Title: Biotic and abiotic factors influencing forage fish and pelagic nekton community in the Columbia River plume (USA) throughout the upwelling season 1999-2009
Author: Marisa N.C. Litz, Robert L. Emmett, Paul J. Bentley, Andrew M. Claiborne, Caren Barceló
Publication Year: 2013
Journal: ICES Journal of Marine Science
Volume: 71
Issue: 1
Pages: 5-18
Keywords: fish assemblages, Columbia River plume, forage fish, pelagic nekton,

Large river plumes modify coastal environments and can impact production across multiple trophic levels.  From 1999 to 2009, the assemblages of forage fish, predator fish, and other pelagic nekton were monitored in coastal waters associated with the Columbia River plume.  Surveys were conducted at night to target vertically migrating species, and community structure evaluated to better understand ecological interactions.  Distinct inshore and offshore communities were identified during spring and summer that were correlated with ocean temperature, salinity, plume volume, and upwelling intensity.  Resident euryhaline forage fish species, such as smelts, anchovy, herring, market squid, juvenile salmon, and spiny dogfish, showed a high affinity for inshore habitat and the lower salinity plume during spring.  Highly migratory species, such as sardine, piscivorous hake, sharks, and mackerels, were associated with warmer, saltier waters offshore, during strong upwelling periods in summer.  Overall, our study of pelagic nekton revealed that temporal dynamics in abundance and community composition were associated with seasonal abiotic phenomenon, but not interannual, large-scale oceanographic processes.  Forage fish assemblages differed seasonally and spatially from the assemblages of major piscivorous predators.  This finding suggests a potential role of the plume as refuge for forage fish from predation by piscivorous fish in the northern California Current.

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Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Characterize ecological interactions (e.g. predation, competition, parasitism, disease, etc.) within and among species.