Macroinfauna Community Structure, Biomass and Sediment Studies During the RUSALCA program

The Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA) is a NOAA-sponsored
program to document the long-term ecosystem health of the Pacific Arctic ecosystem,
particularly as changes in various components are observed associated with climate forcing.
Three full-scale ecosystem cruises were undertaken in August 2004, and August-September
2009 and 2012 in the Chukchi Sea (plus East Siberian Sea in 2009 only). Within the RUSALCA
program our project objectives are to evaluate the benthic community structure and carbon
cycling in the Pacific-influenced waters in the Ameriasian Arctic. Our work is particularly
focused on benthic biological communities and associated sediment chemistry. Some of our
benthic findings indicate higher export of carbon in the SE Chukchi Sea in areas of high primary production and in areas around Wrangell Island and on the western side of Herald Canyon. We are also observing decadal changes in organic carbon processing and regional decline in benthic biomass at some time series sites in the SE Chukchi Sea.