Author (Your Name)

Xinyi ZhengFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Loren E. McClenachan

Second Advisor

Philip J. Nyhus

Third Advisor

Bruce A. Maxwell


The rapid ocean warming observed in and predicted for the Gulf of Maine (GoM) raises uncertainties in the future distribution of American lobster (Homarus americanus). The location of lobsters is crucial to the long-term sustainability as well as management of Maine lobster fishery. This study provides a literature review of lobsters’ thermal preferences in the summer lobstering season and analyzes high-resolution sea surface temperature data in Geographic Information System in order to predict the changes in thermal habitats in the GoM under different climate change scenarios. The results show a projected decrease in cooler thermal habitats (11-15 °C) and a projected increase in warmer thermal habitats (> 21 °C). Meanwhile, suitable thermal habitats (12-18 °C) for lobsters are estimated to grow in waters beyond the three-mile state water line under the high emissions scenario, presenting the possibility of offshore lobstering becoming a more lucrative option for lobstermen in Maine. The modeling of suitable habitats for lobsters made in this study will be more accurate if high-resolution bottom temperature data were used.


lobster, gulf of maine, distribution shift, climate change, ocean warming