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Connecticut River Migratory Fish


August 2002 - December 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., 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


  • Mather, M.E., E.A. Marschall*, and D.L. Parrish. Predicting interactive effects of climate change and dams on success of downstream-migrating salmon. Fish and Climate Change, The Fisheries Society of the British Isles Annual Symposium, Belfast, UK, 26-30 July 2010. *Presenter
  • Parrish, D.L., E.A. Marschall, and Martha E. Mather. Modeling fish migration in the Connecticut River, USA. Japanese Society of Fisheries Science.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 5

Phd Students: 11

Post Docs: 2

University Staff: 2

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 62

Scientific Publications: 32

Presentations: 136



Funding Agencies

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


Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  2. Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. University of Massachusetts
  6. Wildlife Management Institute