The research team studied the impacts of predators on the main benthic prey species in the Northern Bering Sea. Main predators of benthic organisms include spectacled eiders, groundfish, snow crabs, sea stars, and gastropods. As ice cover declines and groundwater temperatures increase in the Bering Sea, the ranges of mobile benthic predators such as crabs and groundfish may increase and thus affect food availability for other predators such as the spectacled eider. The team used trawls, corers and nets to extract sediment and water samples from the sea floor in order to inventory the benthic population and document any changes occurring within the marine food web.
The team traveled on the USCGC Healy in the Bering Sea, which lies to the west of Alaska and the east of Russia. The Healy sampled the biologically diverse waters between St. Lawrence Island and St. Matthew Island with a secondary study area located between St. Lawrence Island and Little Diomede Island in the Bering Strait.
Janet Warburton is a Project Manager for the PolarTREC program at the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS). Ms. Warburton has managed the education programs at ARCUS since 2000 and in that time has helped send dozens of teachers on research expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Ms. Warburton has lived and worked across the state of Alaska and now lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Jacqueline Grebmeier is currently a research professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (Chesapeake Biological Laboratory). Over the last 25 years, her arctic field research program has focused on such topics as understanding biological productivity in arctic waters and sediments, and documenting longer-term trends in ecosystem health of arctic continental shelves, including studying the importance of bottom dwelling organisms to higher levels of the arctic food web, such as walrus, gray whale, and diving sea ducks. Dr. Grebmeier has served on numerous advisory committees and research boards, and has coordinated and participated in numerous international research projects. Dr. Grebmeier has been involved with numerous teacher experience and education programs in the Arctic, including hosting TREC teachers in 2004, 2006 and PolarTREC in 2007.