Arctic Coastal Lagoons of Cape Krusenstern National Monument : Subsistence, Ecosystem Characterization, and Management

Thumbnail Image





Reynolds, Melinda J.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


East Carolina University


The main objective of this research was to provide baseline water quality and species data for the five coastal lagoons in Cape Krusenstern National Monument (CAKR). Coastal lagoons are habitat for fish species that are utilized by many local residents in their subsistence lifestyle. The five chapters address the following: 1) background information, 2) summary of subsistence in Alaska, 3) physicochemical and species data collection in the CAKR lagoons between January 2003 - September 2004, 4) development of a long-term monitoring plan for the CAKR lagoons, and 5) overall conclusions. The data demonstrate that salinity and dissolved oxygen were highly variable in all the lagoons, particularly during ice-covered seasons. In contrast, all CAKR lagoons showed little variation in water temperature throughout the seven sampling periods. Multidimensional scaling plots of the physicochemical parameters indicated that Akulaaq, Krusenstern, and Sisualik each provide different environments that are influenced by estuarine connectivity, the conditions at freeze-up, and local weather conditions. Akulaaq Lagoon reached hypersaline levels in April 2003 (62.1 psu ± 1.8), but was back to estuarine levels by July 2003 (8.1 psu ± 0.1), representing a highly variable environment. Krusenstern Lagoon provided a more stable environment and is likely a potential overwintering habitat for fish species. Sisualik Lagoon was also highly variable and exhibited the greatest amount of station variability in salinity during any one sampling period (38.2%). It was the only lagoon to develop a halocline during July 2003 and September 2004. All the CAKR lagoons experienced an increase in chlorophyll a between January and April and in April 2003, a spring bloom was recorded in Krusenstern (29.6 [mu]g/L ± 8.2). Copepods and Cladocerans were the most abundant zooplankton in all the lagoons. Several Coregonus spp utilize Akulaaq, Krusenstern, and Sisualik with Sisualik having the greatest number of benthic macroinvertebrate and fish species (N = 20). The National Park Service long-term monitoring protocol for the CAKR coastal lagoons was a direct product of this research. Inventory and monitoring of the resources of the CAKR lagoons is critical during this period of increased resource exploration, global climate change, and continued subsistence in Northwest Alaska.