Epibenthic Invertebrates from the Beaufort Sea
Epibenthic Invertebrates from the Beaufort SeaBodil Bluhm, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Scope of Work:
This proposal seeks to rescue data on epibenthic invertebrates sampled by trawls and photographs in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea during Western Beaufort Sea Ecological Cruises (WEBSEC) and Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) cruises in the 1970s. The material includes station information, count and weight data, a taxonomic inventory, and yet unidentified samples. A major challenge in climate-and human impact-related studies is the lack of historical data against which to assess biological response to changes and stresses in the environment. This is particularly relevant in the Alaskan Arctic with its large changes in the sea ice regime and substantially increased interest in oil and gas exploration in the last decade. Epibenthic fauna includes important prey items for fishes, marine mammals, and birds and some epibenthic species may in the future become harvestable in the Arctic. The historic data in question will form a reference point for the1970’s and can in the future be compared to current surveys in the Beaufort Sea done in 2008 and 2011. The rescue involves 1) transforming tables from reports into digital format, 2) processing unsorted samples,3) updating the taxonomy to today’s standard, 4) making the data available to recognized open-access online databases, and 5) integrating the taxonomic inventory into the Arctic Register of Marine Species. Outreach will include species pages of dominant species in the data and will be posted on the website of the Arctic Ocean Diversity project from where the content is harvested by the Encyclopedia of Life.