Climate Change Ecology Projects
1. The pace of shifting climate in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We examined historical patterns of temperature change in the ocean and on land, and found that areas of rapidly changing environments also overlap with many areas of high biodiversity. Some areas, such as tropical areas and some coastlines, have experienced rapid movement of thermal environments, while other areas have experienced slower changes. This variation implies a diverse mosaic of the geographic impacts of climate change. [Burrows et al, Science, 2011]. This work was a product of the NCEAS working group Marine Biological Impacts of Climate Change.
2. The Marine Impacts of Climate Change group has also produced a global synthesis of marine observations of climate impacts, as well as a quantitative analysis of current practices in detecting and attributing climate impacts. [2012, in preparation].
3. Toward a conceptual synthesis for climate change responses. Mary O’Connor and her colleagues synthesized theory to identify hypotheses for how climate change affects the persistence of populations. [O’Connor et al, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2011].
4. Community ecology in a warming world: The influence of temperature on interspecific interactions in marine systems. Rebecca Kordas led a conceptual synthesis of how temperature affects species interactions through direct effects on physiology, metabolism and individual performance. [Kordas et al 2011]
5. Sea level rise, shoreline stabilization and salt marsh primary production. Benthic primary producers provide food and habitat for marine animals and are critical components of coastal marine food webs. Rising sea level threatens these shallow systems, and efforts to protect against physical destruction are central to coastal restoration projects. Often, the ecological effects of shoreline stabilization are little known before significant funds and effort are invested in their implementation.
One common method of shoreline stabilization is the construction of rock sills to preserve marsh elevation. Sills have additional consequences of providing hard substrate and altering the hydrology of marshes and sandflats. To assess the effects of sills on benthic primary production, we surveyed the abundance and diversity of the benthic macro- and microalgal communities at 7 silled and natural sites in North Caroline monthly for over two years. We also experimentally manipulated the macroalgal cover in the low marsh zone of a natural marsh to test the effects of macroalgae on marsh grass (Spartina) growth (LEFT). [O’Connor et al, Wetland Ecology and Management, 2011]