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Effects of Extreme Weather Conditions to Fish Habitat: Study

Aug 04, 2016 12:50 AM EDT
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Extreme weather events have an impact to fish's environment, as per a study.

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science researchers conducted a study aiming to determine the impact of severe storms on certain fish populations that leave their natural habitat and go to more congenial environment, Science Daily has learned.

In a statement, as cited by the publication, lead author Helen Bailey said that such events happened naturally, but having them happen more frequently might have a bigger impact on the fish. She also mentioned that if one got more frequent storms during the year, it was possible that their breeding and feeding could be interrupted, affecting their population.

Bailey and her co-researcher Dave Secor saw 22 striped bass in the Hudson River Estuary and New York Harbor during the Tropical Storms in Irene and Lee way back 2011. Both events happened a week apart and they resulted to huge floods and abdrupt rise of fresh and cold water into the waterways.

A year before team studied the fish's behavior, they tagged them with minute electronic transmitters, which gave signals on how they move. Following the storm, the researchers managed to compare information to check how the extreme storm events impacted the fish's behavior.

In a statement, Bailey said that there were very few studies on their specialization, as it was so hard to sample during the storm events. She added that the timing of these storms was unpredictable and working during these weather conditions could be hazardous. To pursue the study findings, Bailey revealed that telemetry information provided them the chance to do it.

According to Phys, research findings revealed that most of the fish moved from the Hudson River and New York Harbor to the south along the coast. It was also revealed that some remained in the harbor and were not displaced by the storm. Furthermore, some populations checked water conditions in the harbor the following months and eventually came back.

Secor shared his thoughts on how fish behavior affects strategy planning, based on their findings. He said that the responses of the fish species to extreme weather events would need to be considered when planning management strategies to ensure efforts were appropriately targeted to maintain key population segments and critical evacuation routes.

Know more about the relationship between storm and fish behavior here.

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