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Forecasting Climatic Effects on the Transfer of Nutrients from Sea to Land by River Otters

Forcasting Climatic Effects:

On the Transfer of Nutrients From Sea to Land by River Otters

Project Dates: Fall 2005 - Fall 2006

Funding Sponsor: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) Trust Council

Principal Investigator: Nathan Nibbelink

Project Summary:

Changes in sea surface temperatures, nutrient fluxes, primary productivity, abundance and species composition of invertebrates and fishes in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), whether dramatic or gradual, are likely to affect the coastal terrestrial landscape. Predation of spawning pelagic fishes in nearshore environments by coastal river otters (Lontra canadensis) provides a pathway for nutrient transport between sea and land, extending the resource shed of the terrestrial community into the ocean. Using the relation between abundance and distribution of fishes and otter density and behavior, we propose to develop a model that will forecast changes in coastal forest heterogeneity along the GOA with projected climate change. Input data will be based on output from climate-ocean-fish interaction models developed through GEM. Output data will be in the form of digital maps describing deposition of N and P along the coast based on the relations between fish and river otters.

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