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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

Overview

Climate change is causing species to shift their phenology, or the timing of recurring life events such as migration and reproduction, in variable and complex ways. This can potentially result in mismatches or asynchronies in food and habitat resources that negatively impact individual fitness, population dynamics, and ecosystem function. Numerous studies have evaluated phenological shifts in terrestrial species, particularly birds and plants, yet far fewer evaluations have been conducted for marine animals. This project seeks to improve our understanding of shifts in the timing of seasonal migration, spawning or breeding, and biological development (i.e. life stages present, dominant) of coastal fishes, marine mammals,and migratory shore and seabirds along the U.S Atlantic coast. Through stakeholder engagement and outreach across the Northeast region we formed an interdisciplinary working group that developed a regional synthesis of how the timing of biological and human activities were shifting in the Gulf of Maine. We also identified two high priority case studies to focus evaluations and deeper analyses of factors contributing to observed shifts: 1) anadromous river herring in Massachusetts coastal streams, and 2) nesting seabirds across the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. We used a combined approach of synthesis and modeling to determine the direction, magnitude and extent of spatial shifts, as well as identify data gaps and future research needs.  The results pointed to complex and location-specific phenological responses to climate-linked variables, but capacity for adaptive strategies to minimize risks to species. Project results are anticipated to increase the efficacy of management and planning tools which can be compromised when target species experience shifts in the timing of life history events.

Presentations

Staudinger, M.D., C. Hudak, O. Nichols. It’s about time: A synthesis of changing phenology in the Gulf of Maine Ecosystem. State of Wellfleet Harbor Conference, 2019
Sheppard, J., R. Dalton, M.D. Staudinger. Shifts in phenology of the spring spawning of adult alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus): Impacts of climate and population recovery. Symposium: If the Time is Right: Phenology Match and Mismatches Across Ecosystems. AFS Annual Meeting, 2019.
Staudinger, M.D., R. Dalton, H. Leggett, J. Sheppard. Shifts in spring migration patterns by adult alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus): impacts of climate and population recovery. GOM2050 Conference, 2019.
Yakola, K. A. Jordaan, P. Shannon, S. Kress, and M. D. Staudinger. Long-term Trends and Potential Drivers of Dietary Variability in Tern Diet in the Gulf of Maine, USA. Pacific Seabird Working Group Meeting, 2019.
Jordaan, A. and Staudinger, M.D. Ecological and Management Implications of Climate Change Induced Shifts in Species' Phenologies. 9th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and Management, 2018.
Dalton, R. “Phenological shifts in adult alewife migration in Massachusetts”, Duke University Biology Department Population Biology Seminar, 2018.
Staudinger, M.D. Climate-induced shifts in phenology: Case studies of fish, whales, and seabirds in the Gulf of Maine. School of Marine Science and Technology, UMass Dartmouth, Departmental Seminar, 2018.
Staudinger, M.D. Time is of the Essence: Climate-Induced Shifts in Phenology. Monsters of Climate Science Workshop, AFS Annual Meeting, 2018.
Staudinger, M., D. Pendleton, and A. Jordaan. Climate-induced shifts in phenology: Case studies of fish, whales, and seabirds in the Gulf of Maine. The Effects of Climate Change on the World's Oceans, Session 8 -Understanding the impact of Abrupt Ocean Warming and Continental Scale Connections on marine productivity and food security via Western Boundary Currents. Washington DC. June 2018
Dalton, R. “Phenological shifts in adult alewife migration in Massachusetts”, Duke University Biology Department Population Biology Seminar. 7 March 2018. 
Bratton, R., A. Gerson, K. Yakola, and M. Staudinger. Stable Isotope Analysis of Seabird Eggshells in the Gulf of Maine. Five College Coastal and Marine Program Fall Symposium. November 13, 2017.
Staudinger, M., L. Welch, and H. Goyert. Forage Fish Working Group Updates. Roseate Tern Recovery WG meeting, Westborough MA, November 14, 2017.
Yakola, K., M. Staudinger, A. Jordaan, S. Kress, and P. Shannon. Preliminary exploration of long-term trends in Sterna sp. chick diet in the Gulf of Maine. Roseate Tern Recovery WG meeting, Westborough MA, November 14, 2017.
Bratton, R., A. Gerson, K. Yakola, and M. Staudinger. Stable Isotope Analysis of Seabird Eggshells in the Gulf of Maine. Roseate Tern Recovery WG meeting, Westborough MA, November 14, 2017.
Dalton, R. “Climate-induced phenological shifts in early blooming flowering species and adult alewife migration” Northeast Climate Science Center Fellow’s Meeting. 16 October 2017. 
Jones, K., D. Pendleton, F. Bowlick, M. Garron, M.D. Staudinger. A regional analysis of long-term gray and harbor seal stranding events. Greater Atlantic Regional Stranding Conference. Hull MA, 2017.
Staudinger, M.D., A. Davis, M. Devine, L. Deegan, and A. Jordaan. Climate change induced shifts in migration timing of adult alewife (Alosa psuedoherengus) in Massachusetts natal streams. AFS Annual Meeting, Tampa FL, August 2017. Oral presentation.
Jordaan, A., M. Staudinger, and K. Alexander. Ecological and management implications of climate change induced shifts in phenology of coastal fish and wildlife species in the Northeast region. RARGOM Annual Science Meeting, Portsmouth, NH, October 14, 2015
Staudinger, MD, K. Alexander, and A. Jordaan.  Ecological and management implications of climate change induced shifts in phenology of coastal fish and wildlife species in the Northeast.  American Fisheries Society Meeting, August 17, 2015. Poster
Staudinger, MD, K. Alexander, and A. Jordaan. Ecological and management implications of climate change induced shifts in phenology of coastal fish and wildlife species in the Northeast region
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Other

Master's Thesis: An examination of tern diets in a changing Gulf of Maine. K. Yakola, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2019. 

Doctoral Dissertation:  Climate Change, Phenological Shifts, and Species Interactions: Case Studies in Subalpine Plant and Migratory Fish Populations. R. Dalton, Duke University, 2018.  

Report:  Dalton, R. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Internship Program -Project Summary. R. Dalton, 2018.

Blog: “What do fish and flowers have in common?” 18 December 2017 

Award: UMass Undergraduate Intern, Sam Stettiner, recieved accolades for "Ecological and management implications of climate change induced shifts in phenology of alewife" in the UMass Amherst Libraries Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards, March 12, 2016.