A Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Fish and Invertebrates in the United States South Atlantic Large Marine Ecosystem
We conducted a climate vulnerability assessment on 71 species of commercially, recreationally, or ecologically important fish and invertebrate species found in riverine, estuarine, nearshore, and offshore waters of the southeast U.S. Atlantic coast.
Climate change is occurring in most geographic regions, affecting marine fishery resources and the communities that rely on them for livelihood. Effects include changes in distribution, abundance, and productivity. Managers need to understand which species are most vulnerable, as these changes are likely to intensify in the future. Traditional quantitative approaches require a large amount of resources and generally are not applicable to multiple species at once. A recently developed methodology for climate vulnerability assessments allows for the assessment of a wide range of species and uses both existing information and expert opinion to assess both the exposure of species to various climate stressors as well as the inherent biological sensitivity of species to that same stressor. The combination of exposure and sensitivity yields an overall climate vulnerability estimate. Here we conduct a climate vulnerability assessment on 71 species of commercially, recreationally, or ecologically important fish and invertebrate species found in riverine, estuarine, nearshore, and offshore waters of the southeast US Atlantic coast. Climate vulnerability refers to reduced productivity or abundance due to a changing climate. We determined that overall climate vulnerability is high or very high for almost two-thirds of species assessed, and the most impacted functional groups of species included deepwater reef fishes, diadromous fishes and invertebrates. Sea surface temperature, sea surface salinity, and ocean acidification were determined to be the exposure factors with the greatest impact on species. Slightly more than half of species assessed have a high or very high potential for a change in geographic distribution due to climate change. Negative effects of climate change were predicted for only 18% of species, while 31 species were expected to be positively affected. These results will aid scientists in focusing research efforts on the most vulnerable species and help fishery managers incorporate climate change into their decisions.
Burton, Michael L. et al. 2023. A Climate vulnerability assessment for fish and invertebrates in the United States South Atlantic large marine ecosystem. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-768, 408 p. https://doi.org/10.25923/f90h-1z90