DV-20-04 Are lobster habitats changing as an indirect effect of climate change?

Robert Steneck

In Maine, the American lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery is key contributor to Maine’s economy, constituting 76% of all marine resource value and supporting numerous coastal communities. American lobsters primarily inhabit boulder fields. However, warming waters and the presence of invasive algal species, which create anoxic (oxygen-depleted) areas in boulder crevices, may be driving lobsters into new areas. Recent observations indicate that lobsters are moving to ledge and sediment habitats in deeper waters.

With program development funding, researchers will purchase oxygen meters and boat time to measure oxygen levels in crevices to determine whether decaying algae is contributing to anoxic areas. Researchers will also conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate the influence of oxygen on lobster habitat preference. By comparing oxygen level data with data collected on natural locations of boulder, ledge, and sediment, researchers will gain a better understanding of the impacts of warming waters and invasive algal species on American lobster distribution and abundance.

Sea Grant Funds $4000