The Pacific herring are an integral member of the food web and are considered an indicator species of overall ecosystem health. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) herring stock assessments show that Puget Sound/Salish Sea herring stocks are, as a whole, declining precipitously. However, some populations are remaining stable and even growing. This project aims to test how climate stressors affect Pacific herring eggs, embryos, and larvae from both thriving and dwindling populations. It will involve researching the combined effects that increased water temperature and CO2 have on yolk sac extinction (energy consumption) and feeding rates (energy acquisition) of herring embryos and larvae.
By sampling from multiple stocks, this project will allow for the comparison of how geographically-isolated and genetically-distinct populations respond to the same climate stressors. This knowledge has the potential to shed light on why some stocks are declining while others are increasing. Such information could be helpful in informing natural resource management and conservation decisions made by local agencies, including future herring management plans.