Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Environmental factors controlling juvenile river herring productivity and emigration

January 2018 - May 2023


Participating Agencies

  • U.S. Geological Survey

This project expands on recent research on juvenile river herring productivity conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) by using a combination of lab experiments, field assessments, and analysis of spatial and temporal datasets to assess environmental factors limiting juvenile productivity. The results will provide an understanding the effects of abiotic and biotic factors on juvenile river herring growth, survival, physiology, and emigration rates, which are essential for improving estimates of productivity and developing strategies for conservation and restoration in response to climate change, habitat alterations and other environmental challenges to river herring populations.

The overall goal of this project is to conduct research to fill critical information gaps about juvenile river herring productivity and emigration. We will achieve this through two major objectives:

Objective 1. Evaluate limits to juvenile river herring productivity
a. Conduct lab experiments to test the impact of temperature, food availability, and turbidity on survival, growth, swimming performance, and seawater tolerance of blueback herring
b. Compare blueback herring growth in field enclosures with different environmental conditions
c. Assess abiotic and biotic factors associated with river herring productivity (density, growth, mortality) among lakes and rivers in the northeast

Objective 2. Assess factors influencing juvenile river herring emigration rates and timing
a. Assess timing and rates of juvenile emigration in lake and river systems
b. Compare biotic characteristics (e.g., size, age, growth rates) of emigrating and non-emigrating juveniles to assess factors influencing emigration timing
c. Perform analyses to understand how emigration rates influence juvenile densities in lakes, and thus how productivity estimates are affected by emigration events.

Research Publications Publication Date
Marjadi, M.N., A.H. Roy, M.G. Slocombe, J.J. Sheppard, S. Batchelder, R. Govostes, and J.K. Llopiz. 2024. A video monitoring and computational system for estimating juvenile fish abundance. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods. | Download March 2024
Presentations Presentation Date
Sheppard, J.J., M.N. Marjadi, S. Batchelder, R. Govostes, A.H. Roy, M.G. Slocombe, and J.K. Llopiz. 2024. A video monitoring and computational system for estimating juvenile river herring abundance. American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, 15-19 September 2024, Honolulu, HI. September 2024
Marjadi, M.N., J.K. Llopiz, M.G. Slocombe, J.J. Sheppard, S. Batchelder, R. Govostes, and A.H. Roy. 2023. Using video monitoring to assess emigration patterns for juvenile alewife. Joint meeting of the Northeast Division and Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, 8-10 January 2023, Boston, MA. January 2023
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Slocombe, M.G. 2020. Temporal shifts in migratory river herring diets and zooplankton assemblages within Connecticut River coves. B.S. Honor's Thesis. University of Massachusetts Amherst. May 2020
Marjadi, M.N. 2023. Timing is everything: Climate change implications for phenological events and reproductive success in river herring. PhD dissertation, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst. May 2023
Farrell, A. 2023. Assessing food availability and growth rates as emigration cues for juvenile river herring. BS Honor's Thesis. University of Massachusetts Amherst. May 2023