Science Inventory

Nearshore marine benthic invertebrates moving north along the U.S. Atlantic coast


Hale, S., H. Buffum, AND J. Kiddon. Nearshore marine benthic invertebrates moving north along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Benthic Ecology Meeting (45th), Portland, ME, March 16 - 19, 2016.


This research uses data from ORD and from the Office of Water's National Coastal Condition Report to provide evidence of northward shifts in geographic ranges of marine benthic species from 1990 to 2010. It supports the Office of Water's coastal condition work.


Numerous species have shifted their ranges north in response to global warming. We examined 21 years (1990-2010) of marine benthic invertebrate data from the National Coastal Assessment’s monitoring of nearshore waters along the US Atlantic coast. Data came from three biogeographic provinces, ranging from mid-Florida to the Canadian border: Carolinian (CP), Virginian (VP), and Acadian (AP). For each species of the 30 most common macroinvertebrates, we calculated the minimum and maximum latitudes for the earliest and latest year and used a t-test to compare the mean latitude of each species in both years. In the VP, of the seven species that had a significant (P = 0.05) change in mean latitude, six moved north and one moved south. Of the 30 most common species in the CP and VP combined, 27 had a more northern maximum latitude and 24 a more northern minimum latitude in 2010 than in the early 1990s (sign test showed both significant at P = 0.05). The boundary shifts north were small but pervasive, ranging from 0.01-6.19 degrees latitude. Water temperature, a strong driver of species ranges, likely explains the northward shift in ranges (bottom water temperatures were significantly higher by 0.9-2.0 ⁰C in the latest year versus the earliest year in the CP and VP).

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 03/31/2016
Record Last Revised: 03/31/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 311638