Tracking changes in Canadian marine species distributions

Malin Pinsky, Rutgers University


Climate impacts marine ecosystems in many ways, but one of the clearest is through shifts in
species distributions. Species in many regions of North America have already shifted in response
to climate, and further shifts are expected in the future. For commercially and recreationally
important species, including many species of coastal fish and invertebrates, shifts in species
distributions have clear and immediate impacts on coastal communities, economies, and
societies. For example, fisheries shift in search of fish, taking with them jobs and revenue that
may not be easy to replace.

Understanding of these shifts, however, remains limited among policymakers and the public, in
part because information on these shifts is scattered in the scientific literature, difficult to access,
and often out-of-date. In previous CINAR projects, we developed a suite of indicators of marine
species' distribution shifts in the United States along with visualization tools for sharing these
indicators with the public. The indicators used data from bottom trawl surveys from the National
Marine Fisheries Service and partners. We developed software pipelines so that the indicators
could be updated as new data became available. In this project, we will develop new data
analysis pipelines and visualizations for the Scotian Shelf survey from the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans in Canada.