Shipping alters the movement and behavior of Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), a keystone fish in Arctic marine ecosystems
anthropogenic disturbance, Arctic, Arctic cod, climate change, marine habitat, spatial ecology, swimming behavior, vessel traffic
Anthropogenic noise associated with shipping has emerged as a major disruptor of aquatic animal behavior worldwide. The Arctic marine realm has historically experienced little noise-generating human activity; however, the continual loss of sea ice has facilitated a dramatic increase in shipping activity. Here, we use a combination of acoustic telemetry and modeling of ship noise to examine the temporospatial habitat use of key Arctic forage fish, Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) in the presence and absence of vessels in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada. The presence and movement of vessels induced a horizontal shift in the home ranges of Arctic cod with low core overlap when compared to periods without vessel activity. Home range displacement occurred near the vessel. Individuals also altered their swimming behaviors in response to vessel presence with searching decreasing and travelling increasing in proportion. Results indicate that Arctic cod perceive vessel noise and presence as a threat and react by moving away and decreasing exploratory activities. These changes in fish behavior also coincide with the critical open water feeding period suggesting an interruption in exploitation of important and seasonally abundant food resources, and carry broader implications for dependent seabirds and marine mammals, and indirectly for all Arctic indigenous peoples’ subsistence and long-term cultural traditions. Our study implies that strategic management is required for aquatic acoustic disturbance as an environmental stressor in the Arctic marine ecosystem, and highlights ecologically and socially important impacts that require timely conservation action.
Ivanova, Silviya V.; Kessel, Steven T.; Espinoza, Mario; McLean, Montana F.; O'Neill, Caitlin; Landry, Justin; Hussey, Nigel E.; Williams, Rob; Vagle, Svein; and Fisk, Aaron T.. (2020). Shipping alters the movement and behavior of Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), a keystone fish in Arctic marine ecosystems. Ecological Applications, 30 (3).