Pennsylvania’s aquatic habitats play a critical role in three of the world’s greatest water resources – the Lake Erie, Delaware River, and Susquehanna River watershed ecosystems. Pennsylvania shares many ecological and economic challenges with neighboring states and provinces. The rapid pace of coastal development, greater demands on fisheries resources, climate change, and other human activities are leading to water quality degradation, increased demands on water supplies, changes to fisheries stocks, wetlands loss, proliferation of invasive species, and a host of other ecological impacts. It is essential for decision-makers to understand the interconnectedness and interactions of these systems in order to maintain vital habitats and inform restoration efforts within ecosystems and watersheds.
Keeping coastal ecosystems healthy is a challenge because of the diversity of stressors each system faces. This stewardship is further complicated because ecosystems cross many political boundaries. Responsible management of these systems requires new kinds of thinking and actions, often termed ecosystem-based management. New approaches require unprecedented levels of coordination and collaboration among international, federal, state, and local jurisdictions and the active engagement of the people who live, work, and recreate along our coasts. They also require an understanding of the characteristics of species, landscapes, and their interactions within each ecosystem. Pennsylvania Sea Grant is a leader in developing regional approaches to understanding and maintaining healthy coastal ecosystems. Our staff directs efforts to identify information gaps across the Commonwealth, implements research priorities to address those gaps, and coordinates information and technology transfer to the people who need it.