Climate change and invasive species are two very important stressors threatening Pennsylvania's ecosystems and when you combine the two, they can become an even greater problem.
How climate changes will impact invasive species is not yet well understood, and can vary significantly depending on the region, the species affected, and the particular impacts being felt. Climate change could drive the spread of invasive plant and animal species by expanding their range and distribution. This double blow is an enormous threat to forests, fisheries, and crops, as well as human health and livelihoods. Pennsylvania Sea Grant has worked with many partners to help understand these interactions and tie together the research on climate change and AIS with educational opportunities, public outreach, and opportunities with natural resource management.
Research on Climate Change and Aquatic Invasive Species distributions
What will Pennsylvania's future climate look like? How will increasing temperatures impact which species will survive, and where they will be found ? In 2010, Sara Stahlman worked with Shippensburg University to conduct the study: Evaluating the Risk of Non-Native Aquatic Species Range Expansions in a Changing Climate in Pennsylvania to study this question. She used climate projection models, and climate-matching software to determine which species are most at risk to establish in Pennsylvania under different climate scenarios. The study found four high risk species that could establish and become invasive as temperatures warm over the next century.
In 2016, Sara plans to conduct a follow up study using updated climate project models, and climate matching software, to gain further insight into species at most risk of establishing in Pennsylvania. For more information, contact Sara Stahlman.
Climate Change and AIS Educational Curriculum
Pennsylvania and New York Sea Grants worked together with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to compile lesson plans focusing on the potential interactions between AIS and the changing climate that may exacerbate their impacts and cause changes in species distribution. These lesson plans have been updated and adapted from existing climate change or AIS curriculum, to reflect these interactions. Download the lesson plans here!