Over the past decade, coastal communities and ecosystems in the Northeast United States have begun to face acute and chronic impacts of climate change. Extreme events such as Superstorm Sandy caused stakeholders in this region to examine what information is needed to implement adaptation and mitigation plans to prepare for the next major storm. The objective of this study was to determine research needs identified by stakeholders in the Northeast needed for decision-support and policy creation so that scientists can target future research efforts to fill gaps. Modeled after document analysis methods in Dilling et al. (2014), this study examines documents sourced from local and regional organizations in both the public and private sectors to determine gaps in information necessary for climate resilience planning. Stakeholders throughout the Northeast expressed a need for solution-based research, in particular natural and nature-based solutions such as wetlands. Additionally, there was a need to better understand the economic impacts of climate change on key industries in the region as well as cost-benefit analyses of different adaptation options. It was also determined that government organizations, such as Sea Grant, play a crucial role in supporting stakeholder needs assessments both in terms of funding and providing necessary expertise. This study provides a baseline of stakeholder-expressed research needs in the Northeast to start the conversation between communities and researchers interested in conducting useable science.
Securing economically and ecologically significant molluscs, as our oceans warm due to climate change, is a global priority. South eastern Australia receives warm water in a strengthening East Australia Current and so resident species are vulnerable to elevated temperature and marine heat waves. This study tested whether prior exposure to elevated temperature can enhance resilience of oysters to ocean warming. Two Australian species, the flat oyster, Ostrea angasi, and the Sydney rock oyster, Saccostrea glomerata, were obtained as adults and “heat shocked” by exposure to a dose of warm water in the laboratory. Oysters were then transferred to elevated seawater temperature conditions where the thermal outfall from power generation was used as a proxy to investigate the impacts of ocean warming. Shell growth, condition index, lipid content and survival of flat oysters and condition of Sydney rock oysters were all significantly reduced by elevated seawater temperature in the field. Flat oysters grew faster than Sydney rock oysters at ambient temperature, but their growth and survival was more sensitive to elevated temperature. “Stress inoculation” by heat shock did little to ameliorate the negative effects of increased temperature, although the survival of heat-shocked flat oysters was greater than non-heat shocked oysters. Further investigations are required to determine if early exposure to heat stress can enhance resilience of oysters to ocean warming.
Hurricanes pose an increasing threat to coastal environments as the intensity and severity of hurricanes are predicted to increase under the changing climate. Coastal wetlands are effective nature-based defenses of coastal cities against storms. However, the ecosystems themselves are also susceptible to the impacts of hurricanes, which are highly complex and not fully understood. Here we utilize multi-decadal satellite data archives (Landsat 1984–2014 and MODIS 2005–2015) and long-term coast-wide field-based environmental data (1978–2018) to investigate the impacts of hurricanes Katrina (2005), Gustav (2008), and Isaac (2012) on the coastal marshes in Louisiana, USA, where the hurricanes made landfall. While the hurricanes had immediate impacts on the marshes’ biomass and area at an ecosystem scale, general recovery was observed in the next one and two years. We also found that the most severe damage always occurred in the intermediate and brackish marshes of the Breton Sound basin, where the nitrogen concentration in the water was significantly higher compared to areas with less damage (P < 0.01). Because excess nutrient can reduce the marshes' root growth and degrade their root mat, we posit that the long-term nutrient enrichment in the area, which resulted from the diverted Mississippi River water, has increased the marshes’ susceptibility to hurricanes. The results highlight the resilience of coastal marsh ecosystems against hurricanes, but also underline the profound synergistic effects of climatic and anthropogenic factors on the sustainability of coastal ecosystems, which have important implications for coastal management under the current climate trend.
Species conservation, river rehabilitation, stock enhancement, environmental impact assessment and related planning tools require indicators to identify significant impacts but also mitigation success. Since river systems are shaped by disturbances from floods and droughts, typical riverine fish species should have evolved life history traits providing resilience against such disturbances. This study compiled and analyzed resilience traits of European lampreys and fish species to derive a novel sensitivity classification of species to mortality. We assembled life history traits like maximum length, migration type, mortality, fecundity, age at maturity, and generation time of 168 species and created a novel method to weigh and integrate all traits to generate a final sensitivity score from one (low sensitivity) to three (high sensitivity) for each species. Large-bodied, diadromous, rheophilic and lithophilic species such as sturgeons, sea trout, and Atlantic salmon usually appeared to have high sensitivity to additional adult fish mortality, whereas small-bodied, limnophilic and phytophilic species with fast generation cycles were of low sensitivity. The final scoring and classification of 168 European lampreys and fish species according to their sensitivity can be easily regionalized by selecting the most sensitive candidates according to the local species pool. This sensitivity classification has major implications for advancing impact assessment, allowing better targeting of species for conservation measures, benchmarking progress during rehabilitation and enhancing the objective evaluation of the success of restoration projects.
Globally increasing sea surface temperatures threaten coral reefs, both directly and through interactions with local stressors. More resilient reefs have a higher likelihood of returning to a coral-dominated state following a disturbance, such as a mass bleaching event. To advance practical approaches to reef resilience assessments and aid resilience-based management of coral reefs, we conducted a resilience assessment for Puerto Rico’s coral reefs, modified from methods used in other U.S. jurisdictions. We calculated relative resilience scores for 103 sites from an existing commonwealth-wide survey using eight resilience indicators—such as coral diversity, macroalgae percent cover, and herbivorous fish biomass—and assessed which indicators most drove resilience. We found that sites of very different relative resilience were generally highly spatially intermixed, underscoring the importance and necessity of decision making and management at fine scales. In combination with information on levels of two localized stressors (fishing pressure and pollution exposure), we used the resilience indicators to assess which of seven potential management actions could be used at each site to maintain or improve resilience. Fishery management was the management action that applied to the most sites. Furthermore, we combined sites’ resilience scores with projected ocean warming to assign sites to vulnerability categories. Island-wide or community-level managers can use the actions and vulnerability information as a starting point for resilience-based management of their reefs. This assessment differs from many previous ones because we tested how much information could be yielded by a “desktop” assessment using freely-available, existing data rather than from a customized, resilience-focused field survey. The available data still permitted analyses comparable to previous assessments, demonstrating that desktop resilience assessments can substitute for assessments with field components under some circumstances.
How real-world marine food webs absorb change, recover and adapt (that is, ecological resilience) to climate change remains problematic. Here we apply a novel approach to show how the complex changes in resilience of food webs can be understood with a small core set of self-organizing configurations that represent different simultaneously nested and multiple-species interactions. We identified a recent emergent pattern of an improving but possibly short-lived resilience of a highly observed Arctic marine food web (2004–2016), considered a harbinger of future Arctic change. The changes can be explained by continuing subsidiary inputs of Atlantic species that repair (self-organize) interactions within some configurations. Despite significant environmental perturbation, we found that the core ecological processes are maintained. We conclude that Arctic marine food webs can absorb and begin to adapt to ongoing climate change.
Coastal development in small islands needs adapting to climate and ecosystem changes in the Anthropocene era. Understanding variability of coastal vulnerability along the entire coastline informs coastal planning and management at an island-wide scale as some coastal stretches are more appropriate for big-scale development, while others require additional coastal protection and/or ecosystem conservation. To date, few researches focused on developing macro-scale coastal vulnerability index at an island or archipelagic-scale. This paper fills a knowledge gap by developing an integrated coastal vulnerability index (ICVI) for nine small islands in the Azores archipelago. Considering that degree of vulnerability varies according to human-environment traits of each coastal stretch, this paper characterises integrated coastal vulnerability according to three broad attributes, i.e. exposure to external stressors, biophysical features and socioeconomic characteristics. Using field work, semi-quantitative analysis and GIS, ICVI is a simple and relatively quick approach that provides a broad overview of coastal vulnerability in small island context. A set of six accessible and representative parameters was employed as indicators for this vulnerability assessment, i.e. type of cliff; type of beach; coastal defences; exposure to swell/storm waves; outcrop flooded and land-use. The entire coastline of each island was divided into segments according to their geomorphic compartments and subsequently assigned with a relative ICVI value. Each segment was ranked into five classes ranging from very low to very high based on its relative degree of vulnerability. While majority of the coasts are of moderate relative vulnerability in the Azores, vulnerability varies broadly along the coast between low, moderate and high. The ICVI approach serves as a useful decision support tool to facilitate effective planning and management for the Azores small islands and the methodology has the flexibility of being scaled deep by adding more indicators where necessary and available or scaled out to other small islands.
The main objectives of this study are to determine the potential for relative resilience, identify the drivers of potential resilience and priority locations for resilience-based coral reef management in Wakatobi. Data collection locations are spread across four major Wakatobi islands: Wangi Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko at 5 m depth respectively. Coral reefs resilience assessment in Wakatobi consists of several stages: selecting indicators, collecting and compiling data, analyzing data, and identifying management targets. The highest potential for relative resilience in Wakatobi are station 15 with a value of 1.00 and the lowest is station 8 with a value of 0.69. Relative resilience in high category is 2 stations, med-high 7 stations, med-low 2 stations, and low 4 stations. Relative resilience in high category is able to be distinguished by the high values of bleaching resistant, herbivore biomass, coral cover, and supported by a high diversity of coral. The mid-high category is grouped by the contribution of indicator values coming from coral recruitment and coral diversity, as well as followed by two other indicators such as coral cover and alga cover. Last, the mid-low category and low category tend to be pushed by the low values of coral disease and followed by some other indicators like algae cover. Resilience approach to identify prioritizing stations for management actions is conservation (2 station), fishery management and enforcement (5 station), bleaching monitoring and supporting recovery (3 station), coral reef restoration (2 tation), tourism structuring (10 station), and Land-based sources of pollution reduction (5 station).
Rising atmospheric CO2 is causing a progressive decrease of seawater pH, termed ocean acidification. Predicting its impact on marine invertebrate reproduction is essential to anticipate the consequences of future climate change on species fitness and survival. Ocean acidification may affect reproductive success either in terms of gamete or progeny quality threating species survival. Despite an increasing number of studies focusing on the effects of ocean acidification on the early life history of marine organisms, very few have investigated the effects on invertebrate gamete quality. In this study, we set up two experimental approaches simulating the ocean conditions predicted for the end of this century, in situ transplant experiments at a naturally acidified volcanic vent area along the Ischia island coast and microcosm experiments, to evaluate the short-term effects of the predicted near-future levels of ocean acidification on sperm quality of the ascidian Ciona robusta after parental exposure. In the first days of exposure to acidified conditions, we detected alteration of sperm motility, morphology and physiology, followed by a rapid recovery of physiological conditions that provide a new evidence of resilience of ascidian spermatozoa in response to ocean acidification. Overall, the short-term tolerance to adverse conditions opens a new scenario on the marine species capacity to continue to reproduce and persist in changing oceans.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) has been put forward as a way to more comprehensively manage marine environments by balancing human demands and protecting areas that support ecosystem function. Given the recent motivations for countries to adopt large-scale marine spatial planning approaches, ensuring these plans are grounded in social-ecological resilience theories is essential for long-term success. Drawing upon recent academic attention from a range of disciplinary areas, this review explores current practices and applied examples of published case studies from around the world that have integrated social and ecological spatial information using GIS techniques. This review intended to use these case studies to guide directions of future MSP research that considers social-ecological resilience theories. Five overall themes were uncovered. First, extractive uses, such as fisheries, were often given priority in MSP processes, which even though important, may undermine the social resilience of coastal communities by not supporting the diversity of non-extractive economies. Second, the quality of ecological spatial data used in the studies varied greatly, often with little consideration of how ongoing human demands may influence long-term ecological resilience. Thrid, many GIS techniques were used to integrate social and ecological data including: descriptive maps, site prioritisation techniques, and predictive modelling. Lastly, only a small number of studies considered cross-ecosystem influences and only two incorporated potential climate change impacts on social institutions and marine ecosystems. Overall, there is a need for progressing GIS predictive modelling techniques to assess and link the responses of social and ecological systems to MSP solutions in order to support long-term social-ecological resilience.