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Connecticut River Migratory Fish


August 2002 - June 2018


Recently much of the popular science literature has focused on the concept of climate change. Thus far, there have been some very simple predictions on how climate change will affect temperature, especially in more northern latitudes. As ectotherms, fish are affected directly by any changes in temperature, which can range from altering foraging, reproduction, metabolism, migration timing, etc. In the Connecticut River, anadromous fish (e.g., Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), American shad (Alosa sapidissima), sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)) are predicted to change migration patterns in relation to climate change. The life cycle complexity of migratory species introduces several unknowns regarding the transitions from freshwater to marine and back, and from tributary to mainstem in some species. The changing thermal regime will be accompanied by changes in discharge as a component of the altered water cycle. Predictions of changes in shorter-term weather patterns include more severe events; e.g., a tornado occurred in Vermont on May 9, 2009 and Hurricane Irene caused major damage in Vermont tributaries in August 2011.
This backdrop provides an opportunity to expand on our previous modeling of Atlantic salmon migration in the Connecticut River. We explored how temperature, discharge, and the indirect effects of dams (by creating delays in migration) were related to survival of Atlantic salmon smolts. We (D. Parrish, M. Mather, and E. Marschall) have worked in this area for several years and have data from previous monitoring and research that we can employ in pursuing new research on American shad as a mainstem spawner.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Marschall, E.A., D.C. Glover, M.E. Mather, and D.L. Parrish. Modeling larval American Shad recruitment in a large river. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.
  • Marschall, E.A., M.E. Mather, D.L. Parrish, G. Allison, and J. McMenemy. Migration delays caused by anthropogenic barriers: modeling dams, temperature, and success of migrating salmon smolts. Ecological Applications 21: 3014-3031


  • Parrish, D.L. October 2001. Global climate change and Atlantic salmon. Vermont Water Resources and Lake Studies Center Annual Meeting
  • Marschall, E.A., M.E. Mather, D.L. Parrish, and G.W. Allison. River discharge, river temperature, dams, and the timing of downstream migration of Atlantic salmon smolts: a modeling approach. 137th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, San Francisco, CA, 2-6 September 2007. (Invited symposium presentation.)
  • Mather, M. E., E. A. Marschall, D. L. Parrish, G. Allison, J. McMenemy. 2009 River discharge, temperature, dams, and the timing of downstream migration of Atlantic salmon smolts: a modeling approach. Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Research Forum, Hadley, MA, February, 2009.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 142

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 240

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 701

Scientific Publications: 1936

Presentations: 4260



Funding Agencies

  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • NMFS
  • Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Vermont Fish and Wildlife


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey