Sensitivity of coastal marine fishes to the combined stressors of acidification, hypoxia and warming

Coastal marine ecosystems worldwide are affected by a suite of man-made changes; not only are waters warming and decreasing in baseline pH due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, coastal habitats also often suffer from excessive nutrient input (eutrophication) that is causing increased microbial respiration that acerbates acidification and also contributes to hypoxia. While substantial research has already been devoted to study the effects of many these stressors individually, far too little is still known about their combined effect. Pioneering works have suggested that in some instances the effects will simply add up, whereas in other examples, factors interact and may cause greater or lesser than additive effects.

Our lab has been studying effects of acidification, hypoxia, and warming on the early and most vulnerable stages of coastal forage fishes such as the Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia, the inland silverside, M. beryllina, or Northern sand lance Ammodytes dubius. We have built a state-of-the-art experimental setup that will allow rearing fish embryos, larvae, juveniles, and adults under factorial designs of static and fluctuating levels of CO2, O2, and temperature (check lab news) in order to identify vulnerabilities, mechanisms, and adaptive potential of coastal forage fish species. We are also in the process of developing monitoring capacities for pH and O2 in nearshore habitats (e.g., Mumford Cove) and participate in analyses of existing time-series from a range of coastal habitats.

Atlantic Silverside juveniles swimming
Atlantic silverside juveniles

silverside art

Currently working on the project: Callie Concannon (M.S. student)

Current grants:
Baumann & Nye NSF-OCE #1536165: Collaborative research: Understanding the effects of acidification and hypoxia within and across generations in a coastal marine fish

Baumann, H., Wiley, D. Kaufman, L., Valentine, P., and Gallager, S. Sensitivity of larval and juvenile sand lance Ammodytes dubius on Stellwagen Bank to predicted ocean warming, acidification, and deoxygenation. Northeast Regional SeaGrant Consortium

Prospective graduate students: While there is currently no funded and open opportunity, check this space. Research proposals – when funded – usually need to fill positions relatively quickly. In the meantime, I’m open and committed to work with interested, ambitious, and qualified candidates on competitive fellowship applications that you might want to pursue.

Undergraduates: Volunteering is a great way to get to know the practical, exciting and mundane but necessary aspects of field and experimental biological oceanography. Our experimental season on wild Atlantic silversides generally goes from early April to July, but other types of experiments require continuous attention.
Contact me directly (, or visit the Rankin Lab during normal hours to learn more. , that’s when a pair of extra hands is often extremely helpful.