Zachary HoytPh.D. Student
Recolonization, prey selection and resource competition by sea otters, Enhydra lutris, in southern southeast Alaska.
Working on that!
- American Fisheries Society
- American Alpine Club
- Nearshore ecology of Southeast Alaska
- Scaling mountains near those nearshore ecosystems
- B.S. 1999 University of Alaska Fairbanks (Fisheries)
- M.S. 2002 University of Alaska Fairbanks (Fisheries)
Sea otters were extirpated by the fur trade from Southeast Alaska (SEAK) by the late 1800’s. In the absence of sea otters, macroinvertebrate populations increased, and lucrative fisheries for Dungeness crab, geoduck clams, red sea urchins and California sea cucumbers developed. In an effort to re-establish sea otters in their historical range, otters were translocated to SEAK between 1965-1969 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). The re-introduction was successful and sea otters gradually reoccupied large areas of SEAK. However, over the last 15 years macro invertebrate fisheries appear to have been impacted by apparent competition from a sea otter population that is increasing in both range and number. This resource conflict will likely have social and economic repercussions for the region.
The goal of this research is to examine interactions between the sea otter population and their commercially important prey, especially Dungeness crab, geoduck clams, red sea urchins and California sea cucumbers. We will examine small-scale distribution, movement, habitat use and prey selection of sea otters on the colonizing front of the SEAK population currently near Kake. In a collaborative effort among U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), University of Alaska Fairbanks, local fishermen, and subsistence users, we will implant VHF radios in 40 sea otters and track their movements, habits, and diet for 2 years. Using data obtained through these efforts in combination with ADF&G catch and survey statistics and a concurrent study on sea otter foraging; we will quantify current effects and project future effects of sea otters on macroinvertebrate fisheries in the region.
Current Research Projects
- Ecological, Economic, and Social Changes as a Result of Sea Otter Recolonization in Southern Southeast Alaska. (ALASKA SEAGRANT FUNDED )
- Sea otter recolonization and interactions with commercially important macroinvertebrates in southeast Alaska (NPRB FUNDED)