Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species Outline

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Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species


  1. Relationship between Climate Change and Aquatic Invasive Species

  1. Effected waters worldwide

    1. Atlantic Ocean

    2. Arctic Ocean

    3. Mediterranean Sea

    4. Pacific Ocean

    5. Caribbean Sea

  1. Effected waters in the United States

    1. Lake Erie

    2. Lake Michigan

    3. Lake Ontario

    4. Lake Huron

    5. Lake Superior

Aquatic invasive species refer to non-native species, whichreplicate fast, survive in unfavorable conditions, adapt easily andare able to effectively compete for territory and food when comparedto native species (OCCAR, 2015). The species populations increasesand becomes widespread, in turn harming native biodiversity. Invasivespecies are non-native as they have previously been situated indifferent locations, which might have regulated their spreadingwithin their native region. However, they have found their way toadvent regions where competition and predation is low. As a result,they are able to alter the ecosystem in their new environment.Research demonstrates that climate change favors the survival ofinvasive species. Climate change alters normal processes of theecosystem as a result supporting the establishment, spread andsurvival of new species in the marine environment.

Relationship between Climate Change and Aquatic Invasive Species

Climatic changes result in an increase in sea level. Sea levelincreases lead to the submerging of land. Hence, existing wetland aswell as salt marshes become flooded and pass away giving rise to newspecies that replace the lost ecosystems (Eissa &amp Zaki, 2010).Changes in climate lead to a rise in ocean temperatures. When waterconditions are warmer they ease the successful habitation of invasivespecies, which are accustomed to warmer environments (ISAC, 2011).The species might feed on or compete for scarce food resources withindigenous ones International climate change has led to alterationsin precipitation in turn resulting in salinity changes. The changesin salinity are notable through “decreased salinity in oceanswithin subpolar latitudes whereas shallower waters of the tropicaland subtropical oceans have shown increased salinity levels” (ISAC,2011). Such alterations within the abiotic surroundings will lead toalterations in indigenous species composition.

Effected Waters Worldwide

Atlantic Ocean

The marine diatom has been located in the Atlantic Ocean followingfrequent plankton studies (ISAC, 2011). The species is believed tohave moved from North Pacific due to declining Arctic ice cover as aresult of warmer temperatures. The drop in ice cover led to theopening of a temporary path amid the Arctic and Pacific Oceans,making it possible for the diatom to travel to the Atlantic Ocean.The availability of diatom in the Atlantic is an indication ofalteration in the movement amid North Atlantic and North Pacificoceans as a reaction to main climatic changes, which have beenevident in the Arctic (ISAC, 2011).

Arctic Ocean

The increase in ocean temperatures has led to a thinner ice cap inthe Arctic Ocean. As the ice cap continues to melt, the ocean takesin more solar radiation. Ice cover in the ocean avoids the sun frompenetrating into the waters, which makes it possible for a uniquehabitat for marine animals that range from microbes to polar bears(Arrigo, 2015). The loss in ice sea cover is endorsing the northwardmovement of non-native creatures like killer whales, which competewith indigenous species for food. Strong wave action is now rampantin the ocean causing the loss of valuable land due to erosion. Also,habitat for animals such as seals as well as polar bears, which needstable ice to reproduce and feed, reduces (Arrigo, 2015).

Mediterranean Sea

Warming temperatures in the Mediterranean have resulted in theinvasion of killer algae known as “Caulerpa taxifolia”. Thespecies covers the bottom filling water columns with masses of plantbiomass, in the process replacing native algae (ISAC, 2011). Theinvasive species is able to tolerate rising temperatures, and isgrowing at a first rate.

Pacific Ocean

Climate change in the Pacific Ocean waters has led to increases sealevel. This rising sea level causes intense tides as well as waves,which in turn transport species from their native region into theocean. One such species that has established itself in the NorthPacific Ocean is the invasive mussel species “Mytilusgalloprovincialis”. The species has more tolerance to rising waterlevels. Its survival is further enhanced by rising temperatures. Theincrease in temperatures within the North Pacific makes the waters asuitable place for the non-native species to survive (EPA, 2008). ThePacific Ocean has also experienced acidification resulting in coralbleaching. Coral reefs cannot withstand highly acidic waters. As theocean waters continue to acidify, coral reefs become extinct creatingroom for the growth of invasive species.

Caribbean Sea

Climate change in the Caribbean Sea has resulted in warmertemperatures and reduced precipitation. The Caribbean region ishighly susceptible to tropical storms as well as droughts enhanced bychanging climatic conditions. As the sea warms up, it damages thecoral reefs, in turn limiting food supply for fish. It also makes itpossible for species that can survive in the warming waters to findtheir way into the sea. For instance, the lionfish that were nativein tropical regions such as the Indian Ocean have found their wayinto the Caribbean Sea. Warming temperatures have made it possiblefor the species to invade and survive in new regions (Burgiel &ampMuir, 2010).

Effected Waters in the United States

The United States has five Great Lakes. These are Lake Michigan,Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie. All the fivelakes have been affected by climate change resulting in the presenceof invasive aquatic species.

Lake Erie

Climate change had led to increasing water temperatures in Lake Erie.As a result, the waters have supported the survival of non-indigenousspecies. The lake experiences toxic algae blooms every summer. Thealgae blooms are due to changing water temperatures that support thegrowth of cyanobacteria, which is a toxic alga capable of eliminatingother algae species and resulting in their extinction. Climate changehas also led to excessive rainfall within the lake region. Excessiverain leads to runoff from farms causing the increase in nutrientlevels within lakes due to the fertilizer swept into the water. Thishas supported the invasion and survival of dangerous algal blooms(Koslow, 2013).

Lake Michigan

Research demonstrates that the changing climatic conditions arelikely to prolong the growing season, result in the drying of soiland reduce winter snowpack within Lake Michigan (Gardner, 2013).Also, the daily temperature in the region has increased. Such changesmake it hard for some animal species to survive in the waterseventually resulting in their extinction. For instance, dead loonshave been spotted along Lake Michigan shorelines. The deaths havebeen attributed to a paralytic condition caused by the birdsconsuming botulinium neurotoxin (Gardner, 2013). The neurotoxin isproduced following the depletion of oxygen in water, which happensdue to the growth of algae mats on the bottom of the lake. When thealgae decompose, they release toxins to the food chain, which is thentransferred to animal species in the water. Feeding on the toxinsresult in the deaths as noted in Lake Michigan.

Lake Ontario

Rising temperatures within the lake region have resulted in adecline in water levels in Lake Ontario. The warmer temperatures makeit difficult for animal and plant species to survive in the waters.Most affected are the regions polar bears, which might become extinctbecause of decreasing ice in water. As water levels decline, theanimals are incapable of catching fish, which also migrate furtherinto the lake. Hence, with no food it becomes almost impossible forthe animals to survive. A different invasive species, the quaggamussels have been sighted in Lake Ontario. It reproduces fast andconsumes phytoplankton and different species leading in theirextinction (Clendenon &amp Richmond, 2015).

Lake Huron

Changes in water temperatures have made it possible for non-nativespecies to survive in the great lakes waters. One such non-nativespecies spotted in Lake Huron is the sea lamprey. It attaches itsmouth to marine animals and draws their blood as well as body fluids.After drawing it detaches resulting in the death of the host. Thespecies is fast becoming common in all Great Lakes and theirpredatory nature threatens the survival of indigenous species(Clendenon &amp Richmond, 2015).

Lake Superior

Research shows that Lake Superior’s water temperature has been onthe rise, its ice cover is declining, wind speeds are high and thestratification season has prolonged. As a result, there have beennotable alterations in species composition within the lake forterrestrial as well as aquatic ecosystems. More non-native specieshave made it into the waters, which include zebra and quagga mussel,and spiny water flea. Fish species have also altered due to thehigher survival rate of non-native species like the round goby, sealamprey as well as Eurasian ruffe (Burgiel &amp Muir, 2010).


Arrigo, K. R. (2015). The changing Arctic Ocean. Elementa Scienceof the Anthropocene. Retrieved from:

Burgiel, S. W &amp Muir, A. A. (2010). Invasive species, climatechange and ecosystem-based adaptation: Addressing multiple driversof global change. Global Invasive Species Programme, 4-38.

Clendenon, C &amp Richmond, E. (2015). Pollution by invasivespecies. Water Encyclopedia, 1-1.

Eissa, A. E &amp Zaki, M. M. (2011). The impact of global climaticchanges on the aquatic environment. Urban EnvironmentalPollution, 4, 251-259.

EPA, U.S Environmental Protection Agency. (2008). Effects of climatechange for aquatic invasive species and implications for managementand research. National Center for Environmental Assessment,1-337.

Gardner, D. (2013). Invasive species, climate changes can combine towreck havoc on Great Lakes loon population. Macomb DailyEnvironment, 1-1.

ISAC, Invasive Species Advisory Committee. (2011). Marinebioinvasions and climate change. Retrieved from: per.pdf

Koslow, M. (2013). How heavy rain is worsening algal blooms in LakeErie. National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved from: Center/Reports/Archive/2013/04-29-13-Taken-By-Storm.aspx

OCCAR, Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and AdaptationResources. (2015). Aquatic invasive species: in a changingclimate, 1-2. Retrieved from: FINAL.pdf

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