Relationships among Beringian marine mammals and sea ice
The distributions of the nine dominant marine mammal species of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas have been subjected to principal components analysis. The six species assemblages that result imply some degree of habitat partitioning. The distribution patterns of these assemblages appear to correlate with sea-ice conditions. For example, a “northern Bering Sea assemblage” is strongly associated with “broken pack” . Also, some areas lack strong association with any assemblage, notably Shpanberg Strait, east of St. Lawrence Island. However, these associations are hypothetical and in need of further testing.
It is obvious that other factors than sea ice must be taken into account to clarify these relationships and that remote-sensing techniques that can record marine mammals and their habitats must play a major role in future research. Both marine mammals and environmental attributes will need to be examined quantitatively, together and at a range of time and space scales, in order that a predictive capability be attained for improved environmental and natural-resource management.
Part of the ICES symposium on marine sciences of the arctic and subarctic regions held in Santander, 28-30 September 1987.