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Presentation TitlePOSTER: Phenology in a Changing Environment: Ecological Forecasts of Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River Striped Bass Stock Migration
Presenting Author NameQuentin Nichols
Presenting Author AffiliationEast Carolina University
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Presentation Number5
Unit MeetingTidewater Chapter
General TopicMarine Fisheries, Phenology, Striped Bass
Type of PresentationPoster

Climate change and climate variability are leading to shifts in the seasonal timing of fish migration and reproduction (i.e., phenology) across many ecosystems and species, with changes especially common among anadromous fishes, such as Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis). Understanding how Striped Bass will be affected by climate change is an important issue for stakeholders across the US East Coast given its use as a recreationally and commercially targeted species. Other spawning populations of this species vary their spawning migration timing with respect to seasonal temperatures. North Carolina hosts the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River (A/R) stock, which is the southern most major spawning population of Striped Bass. Large A/R Striped Bass (>900 mm TL) have been shown to migrate long distances in the summer reaching Cape Cod, MA before overwintering offshore in the coastal waters of North Carolina and Virginia and then returning to their spawning grounds in early spring. This study’s objective is to create an ecological forecast of the timing of the Roanoke River spawning run, which can be used to determine the best time to protect large spawning females and assess the optimal timing of water releases from dams under future climate change. The study will use historical data from a Striped Bass egg survey conducted from 1959-1992 and a concurrent creel survey data to model spawning migration timing as a function of river, estuarine, and coastal temperature, regional climate indices, dissolved oxygen concentration, wind speed, river flow pulse duration timing, and Striped Bass population size structure. This ecological forecast is important since there is management in place to protect Striped Bass by closing the fishery seasonally, during their migration, yet the timing of this closure does not change. The forecast will make the fishery and the management of the fishery more efficient by providing a predictive tool to its stake holders, which could allow them to adapt the seasonal closure, seasonal fishing effort, or water releases from dams to changing spawning times. Preliminary phenological metrics will be presented comparing migration timing calculated by creel data and the Striped Bass egg survey.