Saturday, March 15, 2014

Climate Change and Alaskan Wetlands

In case my chalkboard graphic was not enough, I have put together an even more compelling graphic to better illustrate the findings of Corcoran et al. In their study of Alaskan boreal wetland responses to climate change!

Figure 1: climate change and Alaskan wetlands (Morse, 2014)

In Summary, since late 1980s wetlands have shrunk in size due to increased average temperatures in Alaska of 3-4 degrees Celsius. This decrease in wetland size means a higher concentration of nutrients which leads to phytoplankton blooms. These blooms mean more food for zooplankton and less algae fallout to benthic invertebrates. Since migratory birds rely on benthic inverts for a large portion of their diet, the researchers predicted that we may begin to see shrinking migratory bird populations.

Some of the data supporting this research is assumed to be the same for all wetlands in the study area. This is problematic because the area that they were surveying has 20,000 wetlands in a 36,000 square kilometer area. However, It is nonetheless interesting to think about the cataclysmic effects that climate change can have on an entire ecosystem.

Corcoran, R.M., Lovvorn, J.R., Heglund, P.J. (2009). Long-term change in limnology and invertebrates in Alaskan boreal wetlands. Hydrobiologia, 620(1), 77-89. 

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