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Using Biological Monitoring to Detect Climate Change Effects: A Classification of Bioindicators. Britta Bierwagen, Susan Julius Global Change Research Program, NCEA/ORD/EPA Michael Barbour, Jeroen Gerritsen, Anna Hamilton, Mike Paul Tetra Tech, Inc.

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using biological monitoring to detect climate change effects a classification of bioindicators

Using Biological Monitoring to Detect Climate Change Effects: A Classification of Bioindicators

Britta Bierwagen, Susan Julius

Global Change Research Program, NCEA/ORD/EPA

Michael Barbour, Jeroen Gerritsen, Anna Hamilton, Mike Paul

Tetra Tech, Inc.

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and they do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

slide2

Increased CO2 in atmosphere

Increased air temperature

Altered precipitation regimes

Climatic changes

Increased water temperature

Altered flow

Increased snowmelt

Altered evapo-transpiration

Reduced ice cover

Increased sea levels

Effects in aquatic ecosystems

Increased salinity / altered water chemistry

Increased CO2 in waters

Altered stratification regime

Ecosystem

Altered energy flow and cycling

Community

Altered species tolerances & interactions

Biological and ecological responses

Population

Altered demographic rates

Individual

Altered vital rates

Assessment of responses

Responses can be measured using indicators

outline
Outline
  • Climate change consequences for aquatic systems
  • Effects on biological indicators
  • Categories of biological indicators according to responsiveness to climate change
  • Considerations for monitoring and bioassessment programs
climate change effects on aquatic ecosystems
Climate Change Effects on Aquatic Ecosystems
  • Changes in air temperature influence changes in water temperature
  • Changes in precipitation timing and amount affect water quantity and quality, and timing of flows
  • Thermal expansion and polar melting cause sea level rise
  • Increasing atmospheric CO2 decreases pH

Effects vary regionally and seasonally

Alterations have consequences throughout ecosystem

climate change effects on aquatic ecosystems will affect both reference and impaired sites
Climate change effects on aquatic ecosystems will affect both reference and impaired sites
  • Need to distinguish climate change from other stressors, both to control for and detect effects
  • Monitoring design and selection of indicators should reflect these needs
what kind of ecosystem effects are expected
What kind of ecosystem effects are expected?

Some examples of what could be monitored…

  • Species moving up in altitude and latitude
    • Changing species composition
    • Changing emergence dates
    • Changing seasonality & productivity of plankton
    • Changing food web interactions
  • Increased biological productivity due to warmer water temperatures and longer ice-free periods

Cht. 4, IPCC 2007

additional monitoring considerations climate and land use change interactions
Additional Monitoring Considerations: Climate and Land Use Change Interactions

Can monitoring disentangle interacting stressors?

  • High flows
    • Land use likely to dominate signal
  • Low flows
    • Climate likely to dominate signal
climate change bioassessment programs
Climate Change & Bioassessment Programs
  • Additional stressor on ecosystem
  • Affects both reference & non-reference sites
  • Current indicators may be confounded by climate change effects on ecosystems
  • Bioassessment program management goals
    • Difficult to establish goal if baseline is changing
    • Or goals may be impossible to meet
slide10

Climate Change & Bioassessment Programs

  • Additional stressor on ecosystem
  • Affects both reference & non-reference sites
  • Current indicators may be confounded by climate change effects on ecosystems
  • Bioassessment program management goals
    • Difficult to establish goal if baseline is changing
    • Or goals may be impossible to meet
slide11

Climate Change & Bioassessment Programs

  • Additional stressor on ecosystem
  • Affects both reference & non-reference sites
  • Current indicators may be confounded by climate change effects on ecosystems
  • Bioassessment program management goals
    • Difficult to establish goal if baseline is changing
    • Or goals may be impossible to meet
slide12

Climate Change & Bioassessment Programs

  • Additional stressor on ecosystem
  • Affects both reference & non-reference sites
  • Current indicators may be confounded by climate change effects on ecosystems
  • Bioassessment program management goals
    • Difficult to establish goal if baseline is changing
    • Or goals may be impossible to meet
preliminary analysis of indicators
Preliminary Analysis of Indicators
  • Developed initial categorization of biological indicators according to sensitivity to climate change
  • Conducted case studies on effects on reference and non-reference sites and monitoring strategies
  • Held workshops for biocriteria managers (Spring ’07 & ’08)
  • Final report available on EPA/NCEA website under Global Change*

* http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=190304

what defines climate insensitive
What Defines Climate-Insensitive?
  • Ecological events not cued to temperature
  • Species is tolerant of broad temperature range
  • Tolerant of wide range of hydrologic conditions
    • High flows or low flows
    • High variability in flow
    • Variation in salinity
what defines climate sensitive
What Defines Climate-Sensitive?
  • Ecological events cued to temperature
  • Species exists in narrow temperature range
  • Intolerant of certain hydrologic conditions
    • High flows or low flows
    • Saltwater intrusion
current research
Current Research
  • Evaluate how indicator species respond to climate change through pilot studies (ME, OH, NC, UT)
  • Develop database on species traits related to climate sensitivity
  • Use historical data to examine trends at reference sites linked to climate variables
  • Use data to project potential effects from CC
  • Case studies on land use change interactions
    • Examine vulnerability of reference sites
    • Examine similarities and differences in responses of indicators to urbanization vs. climate change
slide19

Pilot Studies

  • In-depth studies focusing on needs of state programs, incorporating inputs from last workshop
  • Focus on detailed evaluation of potential indicators
  • Taxa traits associated with climate change responses
  • Regional variation among indicators and traits
  • Test for trends among state databases to test taxa and functional group hypotheses
  • Categorize species according to sensitivities and responses
  • Develop indices
climate sensitive traits
Climate-Sensitive Traits
  • Phenology (timing of emergence, reproduction, flowering, etc.)
  • Longer growing season (number of reproductive periods)
  • Life stage-specific
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Hydrologic sensitivity
potential cold water indicator taxa using maine data
Potential Cold-Water Indicator Taxa using Maine Data
  • Rhyacophila (Trichoptera)
  • Parapsyche (Trichoptera)
  • Ameletus (Ephemeroptera)
  • Epeorus (Ephemeroptera)
  • Pteronarcys (Plecoptera)
  • Perlodidae (Plecoptera)
  • Micropsectra (Chironomidae)
  • Brillia (Chironomidae)
slide22

Potential Warm-Water Indicator Taxa using Maine Data

  • Pseudochironomus (Chironomidae)
  • Pentaneura (Chironomidae)
  • Cheumatopsyche (Trichoptera)
slide23

Management & Monitoring:

What can be done?

some specific recommendations
Some specific recommendations
  • Accept moving target paradigm versus steady state model
  • Establish sentinel sites for trend monitoring
  • Mine historical data records to establish a basis for evaluating climate change
  • Improve hydrological and temperature data collection
  • Integrate the concept of climate change into monitoring and planning
  • Monitor for effectiveness of restoration activities that may buffer climate-change impacts
what s needed to implement recommendations
What’s needed to implement recommendations?
  • Monitoring of reference sites
    • Repeated sampling at same sites (sentinel sites)
  • Collecting baseline data
    • Biotic and abiotic variables (temperature, flow)
    • Species trait information and sensitivities
  • Acquiring continuous and real time data
  • Linking real-time data and near real-time modeling
  • Improving year-round ecosystem monitoring infrastructure
acknowledgements
Acknowledgements

Jen Stamp (Tetra Tech, Inc.)

J. David Allan (U. Mich.), LeRoy Poff (Col. State)