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Scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science are predicting that warmer winters in the Chesapeake Bay will likely lead to longer and more productive seasons for Maryland's favorite summer crustacean, the blue crab.
Researchers examined data on increasing temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay and predictions for continued warming. They found that winters will be up to 50% shorter by 2100, and overwinter survival of the blue crab will increase by at least 20% compared to current conditions.
Blue - Crabs - Change - Winner - Bay
"Blue crabs are a climate change winner in the bay. As the bay gets warmer they will do better because they are a more tropical species," said study co-author and Professor Tom Miller of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "We always hear about those species that are going to struggle or move. Blue crab are going to do better."
The blue crab is found along the Atlantic Coast from New England to Argentina. Maryland's blue crabs spend their winters dormant in the muddy sediment at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay, emerging only when water temperatures near 50° F. In recent years, this dormancy period has been becoming shorter, and trends indicate it will become shorter still—and could potentially become nonexistent.
Temperatures - Crabs - Rate - Temperature - Warmer
"Water temperatures are warming and the crabs are cold blooded so their metabolic rate is directly related to warmer temperature. Warmer water means they grow faster," said Hillary Lane Glandon, who conducted this research as a graduate student at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and is now a post-doctoral research associate at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington.
Scientists predict that the shortening of winter combined with increases in average wintertime temperatures will cause a significant increase in juvenile blue crab winter survival so that the population behavior comes to resemble that currently observed in the Sounds...
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