Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marine Biology


Yong Chen

Second Committee Member

Walter Golet

Third Committee Member

Burton Shank

Additional Committee Members

James Sulikowski

Andrew Thomas

David Hiebeler


Climate change is impacting many marine species distributions, life histories, and behaviors, as well as their associated fisheries and overall production. This is perhaps especially true for the Gulf of Maine (GOM). Here, warming rates are exceeding a vast majority of the world’s oceans. This highly dynamic system supports myriad species, but is both economically recognized and culturally known for its Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) and American lobster (Homarus americanus) fisheries. This dissertation examines the influence of regional climate change on these species in an effort to predict how these stocks and their fisheries may change in the future. For scallops, this was accomplished by examining and aging shells collected throughout the GOM to determine if spatial and temporal differences in growth patterns could be explained by regional thermal habitats and salinities. For lobster, a five-step process was developed. Firstly, I conducted a simulation study to evaluate the stock assessment model performance under possible changes in lobster molting probability, lobster molt increment size, and size-at-maturity as a result of changes in thermal habitat. Secondly, using two temperature covariates important for early survival and development, a stock-wide, thermally-explicit Beverton-Holt stock-recruit relationship was estimated for the GOM. This relationship served as the basis of a framework to be used by management to test what levels of spawning biomass are necessary in the current year to achieve the desired levels of recruitment in the near future. Thirdly, a delta-generalized linear mixed model was used to predict lobster spatial density throughout the GOM. This spatial density informed a stock-wide abundance index which was used to replace the traditionally used design-based indices in the stock assessment model. Fourthly, a stock forecasting model was developed that could utilize the aforementioned stock-recruit relationship and consequences of ignoring this thermal influence on recruitment estimations were explored. Lastly, a bioclimate envelope model was used to determine relationships of multiple habitat covariates to lobster abundance from trawl survey data before using these relationships to map and forecast lobster habitat in the GOM.

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