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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

The times they are a changing: Shifting phenology in Northeast coastal ecosystems

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 | 10:30 am
134 Morrill Science Center
Adrian Jordaan and Michelle Staudinger
UMass Amherst,

Climate change is causing species to shift their phenology, or the timing of recurring life events, in variable and complex ways. If these shifts differ among species, the result would be mismatches or asynchronies in food and habitat resources that impact individual fitness, population dynamics, and ecosystem function.  While climate change induced shifts in phenology have been well documented in terrestrial ecosystems, particularly relative to flowering plants and migratory song birds, studies of marine organisms have been limited.  This presentation will provide an overview of the current state of knowledge of climate-induced shifts in marine and coastal phenology, with a focus on U.S. Northeast Atlantic ecosystems. We will highlight case studies on diadromous forage fishes, marine mammals, and seabirds that are demonstrating regional changes in phenology. While climate is a likely factor influencing observed shifts, we will also discuss the possible direct and indirect mechanisms and the influence of other environmental and ecological stressors that raise questions about how best to disentangle other confounding signals. Finally, changes in phenology have important implications for natural resource managers and conservation practitioners; to this end we will discuss potential phenological-related adaptation strategies and actions that can be used to help reduce uncertainty and improve species’ ability to respond to future environmental changes.  

Adrian Jordaan is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is an aquatic ecologist who combines quantitative modeling and statistical analyses in field-based and laboratory settings to elucidate factors contributing to variability in ecological systems. Dr. Jordaan strives to unify contemporary and historical marine, estuarine and terrestrial ecology to understand productivity, nutrient, pollution, and biomass exchange between systems, and impacts they have on one another. He is particularly interested in the incorporation of historical changes and contemporary research to determine appropriate restoration goals and improve management of human activities that interact with wild fish populations.

Michelle Staudinger is the Science Coordinator of the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center and an Ecologist with USGS; she also holds an Adjunct Faculty position in the Department of Environmental Conservation at UMass Amherst.  Dr. Staudinger’s research addresses a broad range of questions related to the ecology and conservation of natural resources, including trophic interactions in marine and aquatic communities, climate change impacts on biodiversity, species’ adaptive capacity to climate change, and the use of vulnerability assessments and other climate change adaptation tools.