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Winter is (not) coming: Warming temperatures will affect the overwinter behavior and survival of blue crab.
Glandon, HL; Kilbourne, KH; Miller, TJ
Understanding how increases in water temperature may affect winter dormancy period duration and overwinter survival are important for the effective conservation and management of estuarine species in the face of a warming climate. In this study, we determined the length of the overwintering period and the probability of overwinter survival of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), an ecologically and economically important estuarine crustacean. Overwintering period length and probability of overwinter survival were determined using projected water temperatures up to the year 2100, derived from a harmonic model that utilized air temperatures from multi-model ensemble of regional-scale climate projections. Our estimates of warming water temperatures by 2100 in Chesapeake Bay indicate that winters will be up to 50% shorter and overwinter survival will increase by at least 20% compared to current conditions. The warmer conditions will lead to faster and prolonged seasonal growth, which, when combined with lower winter mortality, will lead to increased population productivity. The level of expression of this increased productivity will depend on the response of other elements of the Chesapeake Bay food web, as well as possible changes to fishery management policies over the same time period.
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