Global Climate Change: USFWS Coastal Research

by Janet R. Keough, Natl Wetlands Research Cent, Slidell, United States,
Thomas W. Doyle, Natl Wetlands Research Cent, Slidell, United States,
Robert E. Stewart, Jr., Natl Wetlands Research Cent, Slidell, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91


Scenarios of global climate change are still ambiguous; however, increasing sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations seem certain, although rates of change are still being debated. Predictions for other aspects of climate change, such as temperature, tropical storm frequency and intensity, and precipitation, are still in debate, and all predictions for local (e.g., watershed) or regional effects are far from being useful for site-specific planning. While recognizing the weakness of current climate models, especially at regional and local scales, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in fulfilling its mandate for wildlife habitat protection and maintenance, advocates understanding the processes involved and forecasting potential changes. Because coastal wetlands constitute critical habitat for a significant portion of fish and wildlife under the Service's conservation charge, the Service's National Wetlands Research Center will study some of the most vulnerable coastal habitats of the Southern United States, namely coastal emergent marshes, submerged aquatic vegetation, forested wetlands, and communities of benthic invertebrates. Studies will include developing landscape-level data bases on National Wildlife Refuge wetland complexes along the coasts of the south Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Comparisons will be made between accreting and subsiding coastal marshes. Greenhouse and mesocosm experiments will be conducted on key species from each habitat type to determine their responses to elevated inorganic carbon, salinity, temperature, and ultraviolet radiation.

Subject Headings: Wetlands (coastal) | Climate change | Coastal environment | Fish management | Vegetation | Ecosystems | Wildlife | Meteorology | United States | Gulf of Mexico

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