Alaska Science Center

Ecology of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Freshwater Fishes

This task seeks to better understand the ecology of freshwater and anadromous fishes in Arctic and Sub-arctic Alaska to provide information to improve management and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.


Fish and aquatic ecosystems are iconic symbols of Alaska and are vital to the social, economic, and environmental welfare of the state. While relatively much is known about the distribution and abundance of adult fish of commercially important species, much less is known about juvenile life stages, habitat use and habitat/productivity relationships, and non-commercial species. As a result, scientifically based conservation and management of many species and their habitats is hindered by significant data gaps. For example, Declines in salmon returns to western Alaska rivers within the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) Region in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s resulted in restrictions to commercial and subsistence fisheries. The reasons for these declines are unknown and difficult to identify because of a general lack of knowledge concerning salmon populations and their habitats within this region. As a result, it is difficult for fishery managers and scientists to identify appropriate management actions. Determining the relative importance of mortality in freshwater, estuarine, or marine habitats as drivers of recruitment variation would aid in assessing how management can respond to declining salmon returns. Similarly, Climate change effects on Arctic freshwater ecosystems are expected to result in changes to temperature, hydrology, ice regimes, biogeochemical processes, trophic structure and food web interactions, primary and secondary productivity, and the distribution of species. Predicting how these changes will affect fish populations is difficult because we lack basic data concerning habitat use, life history, and diversity of fish within much of Alaska.
Title Type
Kuskokwim Bay chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) energy density, distribution, and stomach data, 2004Data
Alaska Science Center PublicationsPublication


Zimmerman, Christian , 907-786-7071

Status: onGoing
Start Year: 1999
End Year:

University of Alaska Fairbanks

USGS Mission Area and Program
EcosystemsFisheries Program

Major Initiatives
LCC - Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative
USGS - Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative
USGS - Marine and Freshwater Ecology

Biological Classification > Animals/Vertebrates > Fish
Biosphere > Ecological Dynamics > Ecosystem Functions
Biosphere > Ecological Dynamics > Species/Population Interactions > Population Dynamics
Oceans > Aquatic Sciences > Fisheries