Shift in the larval phenology of a marine ectotherm due to ocean warming with consequences for larval transport

Ryan Mc Geady, Colm Lordan, Anne Marie Power

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Because environmental temperature has an important influence on developmental rate and physiology, marine ectotherms are vulnerable to phenology changes due to ocean warming. Identifying changes to phenology, the timing of biological events, and understanding their effect on recruitment and abundance is of critical importance to establish potential population effects. We examined the larval phenology of the commercially important Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and used a larval transport model to examine its effect on simulated transport patterns. Using a model to estimate annual larval release dates based on temperature‐dependent embryo incubation, an earlier shift of 17.2 d occurred between 1982–1995 and 2000–2010 in the Irish Sea, similar to an observed empirical shift in phenology of 19.1 d using historical zooplankton data sets. Despite this earlier phenology, temperature‐dependent pelagic larval durations were unchanged because the water column to which larvae were released earlier had also warmed. Larval transport simulations in the western Irish Sea indicated that the phenology shift had minimal effects on larval retention and advection distance overall, because major variations were observed only at very early or late stages of the larval season, that is, times when lower proportions of larvae were present. As the western Irish Sea grounds exports small but consistent quantities of larvae to nearby populations, especially off Scotland, it may act as an important source of larvae, especially when retention of native larvae is low. Overall, larval transport tools may indicate grounds that are periodically vulnerable to recruitment failures and offer potentially valuable information in fishery management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-557
Number of pages15
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number2
Early online date26 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project (Grant‐Aid Agreement CF/16/04) was carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Sub‐Programme by the Irish Government. Zooplankton data was made available by the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (CEFAS) under Open Government License ( ). Temperature data from the Isle of Man Long‐term Environmental Time Series was provided by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC). The authors thank Mat Lundy and Jennifer Doyle for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. The authors are also grateful to the two anonymous reviewers whose constructive comments helped improve the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Phenology
  • Ocean warming
  • Larvae
  • Norway lobster
  • Nephrops norvegicus
  • Larval transport
  • Retention
  • Recruitment


Dive into the research topics of 'Shift in the larval phenology of a marine ectotherm due to ocean warming with consequences for larval transport'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this