Spring 08 Impacts of Climate Change on LIS

Estuaries like Long Island Sound (LIS) face multiple stressors from industrialization, a concentrated coastal populace, coastal development, and myriad commercial and recreational activities. While the estuarine environment is, by nature, variable and changing, necessitating inhabitant resiliency, climate change is very likely, among other effects, to affect the distribution and interaction of native estuarine organisms, especially if ecological adaptation cannot keep up. Further, many non-native species thrive in disturbed environments, especially those with characteristics promoting invasive tendencies.

An anticipated effect of climate change on native organisms is the local elimination of some species, as their ranges contract or shift. These changes in turn might cause other changes in the ecosystem, as new predator-prey relationships or diseases emerge, and competition for and the use of resources are affected. While climate change may not directly cause extinction, it can alter both a species’ ability to interact with others and its response to other stressors.

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