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Oyster reefs and the species that inhabit them will likely be impacted by shifts in environmental conditions due to climate change. This study examined the potential impact of long-term shifts in water temperature and salinity as a result of climate change on the biomasses of important fisheries species within oyster sanctuary sites in the Choptank and Little Choptank river complex (CLC) in Chesapeake Bay using an Ecopath with Ecosim food web model. The model was used to evaluate changes in the oyster reef food web, with particular emphasis on impacts to striped bass (Morone saxatilis), blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), and Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica). Eight different climate change scenarios were used to vary water temperature and salinity within Chesapeake Bay up to the year 2100 based on projections given by previous studies. Simulations used a 4 °C increase in temperature along with an increase (+12 or +10) or decrease (−2) in salinity at annual time steps. The rate of change in species biomasses across scenarios ranged from −0.0052 to 0.0008 t/km2/month for striped bass, −0.0021 to 0.0026 t/km2/month for blue crab and −0.0018 to 0.0026 t/km2/month for oysters. Across the majority of scenarios, the biomasses of striped bass and blue crab decreased, while oyster biomass increased. These results begin to offer insight on the interaction between oyster reef restoration benefits and climate change. The modeling framework utilized by this study may be adapted to other systems to assess the effects of climate change on other coastal restoration habitats.

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science



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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.