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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ecological and Management Implications of Climate Change Induced Shifts in Phenology of Coastal Fish and Wildlife Species in the NE CASC Region


Adrian Jordaan

Michelle Staudinger

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:


The overall objectives of this project were to increase our understanding of shifting phenology on fish and wildlife species that inhabit Northeast coastal habitats and evaluate the implications of those shifts on community dynamics and ecosystem services. Results provide decision support information to assist natural resource managers with development of regional climate change adaptation and conservation plans. This was accomplished through exploration of the following objectives: 1) synthesize available knowledge and datasets of key fish and wildlife species that inhabit Northeast coastal habitats to assess shifts in phenology; 2) evaluate ecological and management implications of shifting phenology and residence time of key fish and wildlife species that inhabit Northeast coastal habitats. Where sufficient long-term species observations and environmental monitoring data existed we explored the questions: 1) can we detect phenological shifts of key coastal fish and wildlife species? 2) What environmental variables are the observed shifts in phenology correlated with? 3) If shifts in phenology are detected, how have these shifts affected the ecosystem services that these species provide in the region and what are the potential future risks? In general, many biological and management surveys, particularly bi-annual surveys, do not collect data appropriate for testing phenological shifts. Where appropriate data were collected, complex and location-specific phenological responses to climate-linked variables were observed. Broad scale environmental variables representative of winter severity as well as site-specific conditions such as run size and restoration actions affected phenological patterns of anadromous river herring migrations into Massachusetts coastal streams. Seabird diets responded to seasonal signals in prey, modified by climate variables. Management and planning tools can be developed from the results of this effort, adjusting time-at-place regulations and developing strategies for maximizing the likelihood of success in conservation goals.