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

Massachusetts Project

Fish habitat suitability and vulnerability to flow and temperature modification

July 2023 - July 2028


Participating Agencies

  • Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Anna electroshocking

Refugia is important for the survival of coldwater fish species under a changing climate. Refugia provides a space species can inhabit during unfavorable habitat conditions in surrounding areas. Stream temperature and flow are important in defining refugia. Warming stream temperatures during the summer decrease suitable habitat for coldwater fish. Stream flooding and drying can also limit suitable habitat for coldwater fish. However, the potential locations of coldwater fish refuges and the strength of the refugia network (network strength defined by number of refugia and connectivity of refuges) has not been exclusively studied.

Temperature and flow models are currently being developed to predict how coldwater patches could change under future climate change projections in the Northeast. Our project aims to provide critical information on how biota use coldwater patches and the spatial and temporal extent of refugia needed for populations to persist. We will also examine the vulnerability of fish and mussel species to changes in temperature and flow to develop metrics that managers can use to understand potential climate impacts.