Monday September 25, 2023

Eurasia Review

Around 72% of cetacean and pinniped stocks managed under US jurisdiction are highly or very highly vulnerable to climate change, according to a study published in PLOS ONE led by Matthew D. Lettrich at NOAA Fisheries, in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America.

Climate change could affect the distribution, behavior, and movements of marine mammals via warming ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, decreasing dissolved oxygen, declining sea ice coverage, ocean acidification, and salinity changes. Climate vulnerability assessments (CVAs) provide a framework for evaluating climate impacts over a broad range of species. Prior to the study, no known CVAs specifically assessed US-managed marine mammals.

To better understand climate-related threats to marine mammals, researchers conducted a trait-based CVA of 108 United States marine mammal stocks in the western North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Researchers assigned scores to each marine mammal stock under two separate categories: (1) degree of exposure to climate change; and (2) sensitivity and capacity to adapt to climate change. Climate exposure was scored using 16 factors likely to affect marine mammals, their prey, and/or their habitat. Researchers also analyzed species’ ability to tolerate or adapt to climate-induced environmental changes.

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