October 1, 2017.
Climate change correlates with a poleward shift in the biogeographic ranges of species all around the world1. For coastal marine species, a hypothesized mechanism behind the observed range shift may be transport of marine larvae up coasts by poleward ocean currents driven by El Niño Southern Oscillation (hereafter El Niño) events, which are predicted to become more frequent and intense with climate4. We test this hypothesis with a case study of Kellet’s Whelk (Kelletia kelletii), a predatory marine gastropod and emerging fisheries species that has recently expanded its biogeographic range up the California, US coast2,3. We hypothesize El Niños to drive the recruitment of Kellet’s Whelk in their expanded range. We will test our hypothesis by comparing the size frequency distribution of Kellet’s whelk populations between the expanded and historic (control) range populations following El Niño and non- El Niño oceanographic conditions. We predict recruitment of the youngest size class in Kellet’s whelk’s expanded range following El Niño years, and no or less recruitment following non-El Niño years.
California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly SLO)
The 2017 STEM Teacher and Researcher Program and this project have been made possible through support from Chevron (www.chevron.com), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (www.marinesanctuary.org), the California State University Office of the Chancellor, and California Polytechnic State University, in partnership with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.