Coastal Plant Range Shifts: Causes and Consequences
Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
310, Baltimore Convention Center
Samantha K. Chapman, Villanova University
Ilka C. Feller, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; and
Kyle C Cavanaugh, University of California, Los Angeles
J. Adam Langley, Villanova University
Coastal ecosystems are perched at the intersection of land and sea and are thus subject to a confluence of global change factors including sea level rise, elevated nitrogen inputs, increasing temperatures, and changes in precipitation. Due to the combined and individual impacts of each of these stressors, mangroves are encroaching into salt marshes around the world. As previously shown in tundra and arid grasslands, the movement of woody species into herbaceous landscapes represents a biome shift that can have far-reaching implications for ecosystems. The highest “velocity” of climate driven change is occurring in the coastal zone, and so these ongoing coastal biome shifts may serve as a harbinger of the fate of other terrestrial ecosystems. In this session, we will explore both drivers and outcomes of coastal plant range shifts. Presentations will highlight a variety of approaches for investigating the mechanisms driving range shifts, including genetic and molecular sampling, field surveys, remote sensing, and modeling. We will also explore the ecological interactions and ecosystem consequences that occur when mangroves encroach into marshes. Salt marshes and mangroves both provide critical ecosystem services such as carbon storage, food provisioning, water purification, and buffering of ecosystems against storm surges and sea level rise, but the provisioning of these ecosystem services may differ in magnitude and timing across habitat types. Understanding the shifting fates of these important coastal wetlands is an important challenge facing coastal managers.