Long-term changes in benthopelagic fish abundance in the abyssal N.E. Pacific Ocean

Bailey, D.M.; Ruhl, H.A.; Smith, K.L.. 2006 Long-term changes in benthopelagic fish abundance in the abyssal N.E. Pacific Ocean. Ecology, 87 (3). 549-555.

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Food web structure, particularly the relative importance of bottom-up and top-down control of animal abundances, is poorly known for the Earth's largest habitats: the abyssal plains. A unique 15-yr time series of climate, productivity, particulate flux, and abundance of primary consumers (primarily echinoderms) and secondary consumers (fish) was examined to elucidate the response of trophic levels to temporal variation in one another. Towed camera sled deployments in the abyssal northeast Pacific (4100 m water depth) showed that annual mean numbers of the dominant fish genus (Coryphaenoides spp.) more than doubled over the period 1989–2004. Coryphaenoides spp. abundance was significantly correlated with total abundance of mobile epibenthic megafauna (echinoderms), with changes in fish abundance lagging behind changes in the echinoderms. Direct correlations between surface climate and fish abundances, and particulate organic carbon (POC) flux and fish abundances, were insignificant, which may be related to the varied response of the potential prey taxa to climate and POC flux. This study provides a rare opportunity to study the long-term dynamics of an unexploited marine fish population and suggests a dominant role for bottom-up control in this system.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0012-9658
Date made live: 22 Dec 2009 +0 (UTC)

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