National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2003

Flatfish recruitment response to decadal climatic variability and ocean conditions in the eastern Bering Sea

Wilderbuer, T.K., A.B. Hollowed, W.J. Ingraham, Jr., P.D. Spencer, M.E. Conners, N.A. Bond, and G.E. Walters

Prog. Oceanogr., 55(1–2), 235–247, doi: 10.1016/S0079-6611(02)00081-2 (2002)

This paper provides a retrospective analysis of the relationship of physical oceanography and biology and recruitment of three Eastern Bering Sea flatfish stocks: flathead sole (Hippoglossoides elassodon), northern rock sole (Lepidopsetta polyxystra), and arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias) for the period 1978-1996. Temporal trends in flatfish production in the Eastern Bering Sea are consistent with the hypothesis that decadal scale climate variability influences marine survival during the early life history period. Density-dependence (spawning stock size) is statistically significant in a Ricker model of flatfish recruitment, which includes environmental terms. Wind-driven advection of flatfish larvae to favorable nursery grounds was also found to coincide with years of above-average recruitment through the use of an ocean surface current simulation model (OSCURS). Ocean forcing of Bristol Bay surface waters during springtime was mostly shoreward (eastward) during the 1980s and seaward (westerly) during the 1990s, corresponding with periods of good and poor recruitment. Distance from shore and water depth at the endpoint of 90-day drift periods (estimated time of settlement) were also found to correspond with flatfish productivity.

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