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Timing is Everything: Fish, Wildlife, and Timing of Life Events

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Timing is Everything: How Fish and Wildlife are Responding to Climate Change Through Shifts in the Timing of Life Events

Changes in phenology, or the seasonal timing of recurring life history events such as breeding, feeding, and movements, have emerged as a primary indicator of species’ responses to climate change. In terrestrial environments, shifts in phenology have been well documented; for example, earlier onset of spring and advances in the timing of emergence, flowering, and arrival times of migratory organisms have all been observed. Far fewer examples exist that provide direct evidence for climate-induced shifts in marine phenology. This presentation summarizes the current state of knowledge for shifts in phenology (or lack there of) across the Gulf of Maine, a region currently experiencing rapid and intense seasonal and annual warming. Results highlight the findings of an interdisciplinary regional working group focused on the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, and species-specific case studies including the spring spawning migration of anadromous river herring, and seasonal prey availability to colonial nesting seabirds across the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The ecological and socioeconomic implications of these shifts and potential adaptation strategies were also discussed.




Public Domain.