The Resilience of Marine Ecosystems to Climatic Disturbances

Last modified: 
February 23, 2017 - 4:14pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 01/2017
Authors: Jennifer O'Leary, Fiorenza Micheli, Laura Airoldi, Charles Boch, Giulio De Leo, Robin Elahi, Francesco Ferretti, Nicholas Graham, Steven Litvin, Natalie Low, Sarah Lummis, Kerry Nickols, Joanne Wong
Journal title: BioScience
ISSN: 0006-3568

The intensity and frequency of climate-driven disturbances are increasing in coastal marine ecosystems. Understanding the factors that enhance or inhibit ecosystem resilience to climatic disturbance is essential. We surveyed 97 experts in six major coastal biogenic ecosystem types to identify “bright spots” of resilience in the face of climate change. We also evaluated literature that was recommended by the experts that addresses the responses of habitat-forming species to climatic disturbance. Resilience was commonly reported in the expert surveys (80% of experts). Resilience was observed in all ecosystem types and at multiple locations worldwide. The experts and literature cited remaining biogenic habitat, recruitment/connectivity, physical setting, and management of local-scale stressors as most important for resilience. These findings suggest that coastal ecosystems may still hold great potential to persist in the face of climate change and that local- to regional-scale management can help buffer global climatic impacts.

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