Long-term records of abundance and effects of large scale climate change on Alaska Peninsula sockeye salmon

Project Info

Lead Researcher(s)

Nicole Misarti

Mark Shapley (Idaho State University)
Bruce Finney (Idaho State University)

Project Team



Project Dates



Alaska Sea Grant (Seagrant Project Page)


  • 2015 Misarti, N.,Linking historical ecology of fisheries to communities past and present in the Gulf of Alaska, Small Scale Economies Project Workshop, Research Institute for the Humanities and Nature, Kyoto Japan, August 2015.
  • 2015 Misarti, N.,Finney, B. F., Shapley, M., Exploring the relationship between Mid to Late Holocene ocean productivity and humans along the coasts of southwestern Alaska. XIX INQUA (International Quaternary Association) Congress, Nagoya Japan, July 26-August 2, 2015.
  • 2015 Misarti, N., A synopsis of current research in western Alaska. 2015 Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference, Bethel Alaska April 15-17, 2015.

Links of Interest

ADF&G Sockeye Salmon Management and Research

Project Summary


Using nitrogen isotope analysis (δ15N) of sediment cores to study variability in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) stock size over thousands of years at the head of the Sapsuk River near Nelson Lagoon, AK this project will determine how sockeye populations responded to environmental changes in the past. The outcomes will help predict the impacts of environmental change on sockeye stocks and help the communities that rely on them build strategies to cope with changes. See the Sea Grant link below for further details about our project.


  • To better understand the effects of environmental change in the Bering Sea on Alaska Peninsula sockeye salmon stocks, by collecting and analyzing recent and ancient data to get a long-term perspective.
  • To collaborate with local communities and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to make results and conclusions easily available to stakeholders with interests in the Bering Sea sockeye fishery


March 2016

We have constructed a composite of the various cores taken during the 2014 field season.


The cores have been have been sampled at 0.5 cm and 1.0 cm intervals, capturing what we hope are a decade interval at most. The pdf shows where we samples at 0.5 cm versus 1.0 cm. There are now close to 500 samples processed for information about carbonate influx, terrestrial versus aquatic plant input and salmon nutrient input. We have 12 radiocarbon dates and are awaiting lead-210 to make our age model of the core more robust. The pdf of core composites shows the locations of the radiocarbon samples. We are also currently working on analysis of the stable isotope data which will refine our model of numbers of returning salmon through time.

Three presentations have been given based on data available. One was at the Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference in the spring of 2015 and two were give in Japan in July 2015.

At the end of July/beginning of August 2014 the team conducted field work out at Sapsuk Lake (also known as Hoodoo or Nelson Lake). Due to amazingly good weather we retrieved cores from 3 areas of the lake instead of one. We also collected water, plant and soil samples from various areas around the lake.

The cores were cut down to lengths and secured for travel. They were then shipped to Idaho State University, where they have been split and described. The cores will now be processed for stable isotope work and radio carbon dating. The plant and soil samples will be processed for stable isotope analyses as well.

The water samples and zooplankton net hauls were rushed to our partners at ADF&G in Kodiak for immediate processing. The water samples have been analyzed for pH, alkalinity, Chlorophyll a, and nutrient content while zooplankton have been identified, counted, and measured.

Fieldwork Images