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Stressing over the Complexities of Multiple Stressors in Marine and Estuarine Systems

Citation: Patricia M. Glibert, Wei-Jun Cai, Emily R. Hall, Ming Li, Kevan L. Main, Kenneth A. Rose, Jeremy M. Testa, Nayani K. Vidyarathna. Stressing over the Complexities of Multiple Stressors in Marine and Estuarine Systems. Ocean-Land-Atmos Res. 2022;2022:DOI:10.34133/2022/9787258

Aquatic ecosystems are increasingly threatened by multiple human-induced stressors associated with climate and anthropogenic changes, including warming, nutrient pollution, harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and changes in CO2 and pH. These stressors may affect systems additively and synergistically but may also counteract each other. The resultant ecosystem changes occur rapidly, affecting both biotic and abiotic components and their interactions. Moreover, the complexity of interactions increases as one ascends the food web due to differing sensitivities and exposures among life stages and associated species interactions, such as competition and predation. There is also a need to further understand nontraditional food web interactions, such as mixotrophy, which is the ability to combine photosynthesis and feeding by a single organism. The complexity of these interactions and nontraditional food webs presents challenges to ecosystem modeling and management. Developing ecological models to understand multistressor effects is further challenged by the lack of sufficient data on the effects of interactive stressors across different trophic levels and the substantial variability in climate changes on regional scales. To obtain data on a broad suite of interactions, a nested set of experiments can be employed. Modular, coupled, multitrophic level models will provide the flexibility to explore the additive, amplified, propagated, antagonistic, and/or reduced effects that can emerge from the interactions of multiple stressors. Here, the stressors associated with eutrophication and climate change are reviewed, and then example systems from around the world are used to illustrate their complexity and how model scenarios can be used to examine potential future changes.

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ADAPTING TO OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to prepare society to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs. Learn more about the human connections and adaptation strategies from these efforts.

Adaptation approaches fostered by the OAP include:

FORECASTING

Using models and research to understand the sensitivity of organisms and ecosystems to ocean acidification to make predictions about the future, allowing communities and industries to prepare

MANAGEMENT

Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally

REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

On the Road

Drive fuel-efficient vehicles or choose public transportation. Choose your bike or walk! Don't sit idle for more than 30 seconds. Keep your tires properly inflated.

With your Food Choices

Eat local- this helps cut down on production and transport! Reduce your meat and dairy. Compost to avoid food waste ending up in the landfill

With your Food Choices

Make energy-efficient choices for your appliances and lighting. Heat and cool efficiently! Change your air filters and program your thermostat, seal and insulate your home, and support clean energy sources

By Reducing Coastal Acidification

Reduce your use of fertilizers, Improve sewage treatment and run off, and Protect and restore coastal habitats

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TAKE ACTION WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

You've taken the first step to learn more about ocean acidification - why not spread this knowledge to your community?

Every community has their unique culture, economy and ecology and what’s at stake from ocean acidification may be different depending on where you live.  As a community member, you can take a larger role in educating the public about ocean acidification. Creating awareness is the first step to taking action.  As communities gain traction, neighboring regions that share marine resources can build larger coalitions to address ocean acidification.  Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Work with informal educators, such as aquarium outreach programs and local non-profits, to teach the public about ocean acidification. Visit our Education & Outreach page to find the newest tools!
  2. Participate in habitat restoration efforts to restore habitats that help mitigate the effects of coastal acidification
  3. Facilitate conversations with local businesses that might be affected by ocean acidification, building a plan for the future.
  4. Partner with local community efforts to mitigate the driver behind ocean acidification  – excess CO2 – such as community supported agriculture, bike & car shares and other public transportation options.
  5. Contact your regional Coastal Acidification Network (CAN) to learn how OA is affecting your region and more ideas about how you can get involved in your community
       More for Taking Community Action