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Climate Change, Precipitation and Impacts on an Estuarine Refuge from Disease
 

Summary: Climate Change, Precipitation and Impacts on an
Estuarine Refuge from Disease
Jeffrey Levinton1
*, Michael Doall1
, David Ralston2
, Adam Starke3
, Bassem Allam3
1 Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, United States of America, 2 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole,
Massachusetts, United States of America, 3 School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, United States of America
Abstract
Background: Oysters play important roles in estuarine ecosystems but have suffered recently due to overfishing, pollution,
and habitat loss. A tradeoff between growth rate and disease prevalence as a function of salinity makes the estuarine
salinity transition of special concern for oyster survival and restoration. Estuarine salinity varies with discharge, so increases
or decreases in precipitation with climate change may shift regions of low salinity and disease refuge away from optimal
oyster bottom habitat, negatively impacting reproduction and survival. Temperature is an additional factor for oyster
survival, and recent temperature increases have increased vulnerability to disease in higher salinity regions.
Methodology/Principal Findings: We examined growth, reproduction, and survival of oysters in the New York Harbor-
Hudson River region, focusing on a low-salinity refuge in the estuary. Observations were during two years when rainfall was
above average and comparable to projected future increases in precipitation in the region and a past period of about 15
years with high precipitation. We found a clear tradeoff between oyster growth and vulnerability to disease. Oysters

  

Source: Allam, Bassem - School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, SUNY at Stony Brook

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology