Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Demographic structure and recruitment patterns of the scyphozoan, Chrysaora melanaster, in the Bering Sea: the influence of climate on ecosystem function (Award# 1602488)

PI: Bi, Hongsheng (
Phone: (410) 326.7249 
Institute/Department: U of Maryland, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Cynthia Suchman (
Discipline(s): | Oceanography |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
In the eastern Bering Sea, jellyfish biomass increased dramatically after 1990 and peaked in 2000. Biomass increased again during the cool period of 2007-2012. Overall, moderate to cold conditions tend to favor jellyfish in this system. During times of population increase, jellyfish likely have major impacts on the Bering Sea food web, including Walleye Pollock fisheries, because the medusae directly feed on young life stages of fish and compete with fish for food. This project will estimate the age structure and age-specific abundances of the predominant jellyfish in the Bering Sea, Chrysaora melanaster, and will relate this to adult medusa abundance in order to understand how their population structure changes with time. The ultimate goal is to estimate the reproductive capacity and success of this jellyfish in relation to climate variability and to investigate the potential for increases of this jellyfish to become a recurring pattern in the Bering Sea given future climate scenarios. This project will contribute to STEM workforce development through the support for the training of a graduate student. The investigators will participate in K-12 teacher training workshops. Undergraduate students will be entrained into the research through an existing Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Elementary school students will be introduced to marine science through visits to the principal investigator's laboratory. A website for the project, including novel imagery, will be developed. Open-source code for image processing will be posted on the World Wide Web as a resource for the larger scientific community. The importance of incorporating age-specific abundances and age structure in assessments of the population dynamics of a species in relation to environmental change is well-established in fisheries science and other disciplines that attempt to understand the temporal variation of populations. Rigorous investigations will be conducted to estimate the abundance and fine-scale spatial distribution of C. melanaster including both their early planktonic and adult stages, to determine their age structure, and to construct a population model to identify recruit success and recruitment timing. This research will examine how gelatinous zooplankton populations respond to large scale environmental changes and will also facilitate understanding of the reoccurring jellyfish population increases in the Bering Sea. The sonar imaging technologies (ARIS1800) are effective in sampling adult forms of the congener C. quinquecirrha and an advanced optical ZOOplankton VISualization (ZOOVIS) system can sample small jellyfish effectively. The combination of net sampling and new aging techniques will provide much needed information on the age-structure within cohorts and will facilitate understanding of recruitment processes, e.g. single cohort versus multiple cohorts. This will in turn enable forecasting of jellyfish abundance and their predatory impacts in the Bering Sea ecosystem.

Logistics Summary:
This collaborative project between Bi (1602488, UMCES) and Decker (1601565, Yale) will estimate the age structure and age-specific abundances of the gelatinous zooplankton, Chrysaora melanaster, and relate this to adult abundance, to understand their population recruitment patterns. During the spring and summer of 2017 and 2018 a team of two researchers will participate in research cruises in the Bering Sea near the Alaska Peninsula to deploy ZOOVIS and ARIS to estimate size/age-specific abundance and collect net samples for aging medusae. In 2017 the cruise will be aboard the Sikuliaq. Also in 2017 PolarTREC teacher, Lenore Teevan (1630463LT) will join the team in the field. In 2018 PolarTREC teacher, Joanna Chierici (1754290JC), will join will join the team in the field.

All logistics for this project will be arranged and paid for by the PI from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2017Arctic Ocean and Seas - Bering Sea05 / 22 / 2017 08 / 05 / 20174
2018Arctic Ocean and Seas - Bering Sea05 / 22 / 2018 07 / 11 / 20184

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