Science Policy Forum: climate change may spark global fish conflict

Our paper in Science out today, “Preparing ocean governance for species on the move” is available here or in Spanish here.

News coverage:

Warming Waters Push Fish To Cooler Climes, Out Of Some Fishermen’s Reach: Paper in PLOS ONE by Jim, Becca, and Malin!

Jim, Becca, and Malin’s paper, Projecting shifts in thermal habitat for 686 species on the North American continental shelf, was published in PLOS ONE last week (and featured in their Climate Change Channel). The paper details how species’ habitat will shift to cooler waters in the face of climate change.

Researchers projected the habitat shifts under a high-emissions scenario and a low-emissions scenario.

Press coverage included

Becca’s research on Science Friday

Becca Selden teamed up with DataSpire’s Kristin Hunter-Thomson to develop an educational resource with Science Friday’s educational director Ariel Zych. The resource teaches 7-12th grade high school students to interpret the impacts of warming oceans on marine ecosystems. Lab members Katrina Catalano, and Lisa McManus provided valuable scientific review of the resource prior to its publication.

Check it out at:

https://www.sciencefriday.com/educational-resources/interpreting-the-impacts-of-rising-ocean-temperatures-on-ecosystems/

The ocean is changing. As it changes, the ecosystem and the species within the ocean are impacted, sometimes in surprising ways. This is a story about how some of those changes—in temperature, where fish populations live, and the fishing communities that rely upon them—could play out along the Atlantic Coast in the next century. It’s also a story about making predictions and using evidence from data. Here’s how it’s going to work:

  1. Read a story from the docks of New England: What’s changing?
  2. Meet a scientist and think like one: How do we collect data on the oceans?
  3. Think like a fish: Use data to model changes in fish populations.
  4. Make predictions: Use your model to make predictions and inform the community

New article in PNAS

Just out last week, Malin has a Commentary in PNAS, “Throwing back the big ones saves a fishery from hot water.” In it, he explains why a recent paper by Arnault Le Bris on the Maine lobster fishery provides important insight into efforts to create climate-ready fisheries management. Practices like conserving the female lobsters and not catching the large lobsters have allowed the fishery to flourish as temperatures have warmed, and will likely continue helping the fishery into the future. Despite the overall good news for lobster and the way it has been managed in Maine, many of the stakeholders in Maine have not been as happy with the news (see Portland Press Herald articles here and here).

Six presentations at ESA and AFS!

Lots of great presentations this month:

  • Jennifer presented 25 years of changes in population genetic patterns of summer flounder at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Portland, OR
  • Sarah presented on genomic evidence for evolutionary rescue in little brown bats hit by white nose syndrome, also at ESA
  • Malin gave three talks: how ecology can help meet the UN sustainable development goals, how to teach about climate change (with Rebecca Jordan), and how climate change impacts in the ocean are different than those on land (all at ESA)
  • Becca talked about changing predator-prey interactions as a result of warming in the Northeast US at the American Fisheries Society (AFS) meeting in Tampa, FL
  • Jim presented a detailed projection of marine animal distributions in North America over the coming century (AFS)
  • Allison presented some of her Ph.D. work on eco-evolutionary dynamics in salmon (AFS)

Jim @ Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum

Postdoc Jim Morley is just back from presenting and participating in the latest Fisheries Forum in Monterey, CA earlier this week. The topic was “Managing Fisheries in a Changing Environment,” and participants included Fisheries Management Council members, staff, NOAA employees, and many state agency employees. Lots of interest in how to adapt to the rapidly changing ocean conditions that we are seeing. Jim talked about how OceanAdapt and the species distribution projections we are developing can help.

Putting endangered wildlife in a corner

Photo by Aziz Saltik (flickr)

Our new paper on extinction risk in marine and terrestrial species is out today in PNAS, “Range contraction enables harvesting to extinction” [free preprint here]. Led by Matthew Burgess at UCSB, the research shows that shrinking distributions puts many animals at further risk from extinction as their abundance decline. While harvesters (fishers or hunters) are typically expected to stop harvesting when a species becomes rare and the costs of harvest become too high, contraction of a species into dense clusters can keep harvesting profitable, even at very low abundance. Examples of species with these contractions include Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, and bluefin tunas.

News coverage:

New paper! Marine species respond rapidly to winter temperatures

Bluefish illustration courtesy of fishwatch.gov
Bluefish illustration courtesy of fishwatch.gov

Jim Morley has a new paper just online early in Global Change Biology (here). Studying marine fish and invertebrates of the coast of the southeast US, he found that winter temperatures quickly and predictably affect species’ distribution and abundance in the following year. In particular, we found a greater abundance of southern, warm-water species following mild winters. We also found that these impacts cascade up to affect fisheries catches for many species. Interestingly, these responses appear in a region that has not been warming over the last couple decades, though 1-3 °C of warming is expected by the end of this century. Warmer winters likely will result in increased abundance of species with more southern affinities, such as white and pink shrimp, southern hake, and star drum.