[pccgrads] FOI/SAFS Seminar - 4/10 K. Gorman, Integrative High Latitude Aquatic Ecology: Mechanisms of Predator Response to Environmental Change

UW PCC uwpcc at u.washington.edu
Thu Apr 6 12:35:32 PDT 2017

For all interested, see below for the upcoming Future of Ice candidate seminar in SAFS.

Special Seminar

School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Monday 10 April, 2017 in FSH 102 at 4 PM

Integrative High Latitude Aquatic Ecology:

Mechanisms of Predator Response to Environmental Change

Kristen B. Gorman1,2,3

1Prince William Sound Science Center, Cordova, Alaska

2Simon Fraser University, Department of Biological Sciences, Burnaby, British Columbia

3Palmer Station, Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, Antarctica

University of Washington, Future of Ice Initiative Seminar

Polar and sub-polar aquatic ecosystems are clearly responding to rapid environmental changes. These high latitude regions sustain fish and wildlife predator populations that hold important conservation and economic value, and, therefore, require a detailed ecological and evolutionary understanding to ensure their long-term sustainability. My research program develops integrative perspectives on the mechanisms that underlie high latitude aquatic predator response to environmental variability. My success metrics are defined by producing scientific results that advance our basic knowledge and are useful to conservation and management; contributing to rigorous field, quantitative, and communication training of students; and engaging in public outreach that instills a greater appreciation for the importance and beauty of remote, high latitude ecosystems that are increasingly influenced by global human activities. As examples of my work, I first describe research conducted in collaboration with an interdisciplinary polar marine ecosystem program (Palmer Station, Antarctica LTER) on demographic responses by breeding Pygoscelis penguins (i.e., Adélie [P. adeliae], chinstrap [P. antarcticus], and gentoo [P. papua] penguins) of the western Antarctic Peninsula (wAP) to regional Southern Ocean environmental variability. The marine ecosystem of the wAP is one of the more rapidly warming regions on Earth as average winter air temperature has increased 7°C since 1950. Integrative studies of sea ice-obligate and –intolerant penguins focused on unraveling the physiological, ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that underlie divergent breeding population responses to climate driven reductions in sea ice and associated changes in marine food web dynamics. I further detail a component of my current research, a project led with colleagues at Prince William Sound Science Center, on the energetic and physiological dynamics of spawning migration by sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) of the Copper River, Alaska – the largest, glacially-dominated drainage basin in the Gulf of Alaska. In recent years, a notable decline in the size at age of returning adult sockeye to the Copper River has coincided with unprecedented oceanographic conditions throughout the northeast Pacific Ocean. Studies examine the fitness consequences of variation in body size that has likely been shaped by a range of ecological stressors from environmental change to density-dependent factors at sea. To date, how hydrological dynamics in the Copper River influence sockeye migratory behavior and success is largely unstudied. In addition, the potential economic impacts of changes in sockeye body size, condition, and migration success to this important fishery are not well understood. In the spirit of integrative ecology, we are addressing research questions using diverse analytical approaches involving body composition analysis, physiological and molecular correlates of stress, and migration telemetry. Lastly, I offer several directions for future collaborative projects that build from past and ongoing studies and complement current research in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, opportunities for student involvement, and ideas for communicating my research program to broad audiences at the University of Washington and beyond.

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