Oregon Climate Assessment Report
Climatic changes -- Oregon -- Environmental aspects, Wildlife conservation -- Oregon -- Effect of climatic change on
Chapter 7 in: The Oregon Climate Change Assessment Report
Oregon's fish and wildlife include animals on land, fish and other species in rivers and lakes, and various kinds of sea life in estuaries and coastal ocean. Oregon is one of the most ecologically diverse states in the country. The state’s robust biodiversity, some of which is already threatened or endangered -- inhabits complex and dynamic ecosystems that we have only begun to understand, let alone examine in terms of climate change.It is clear that the abundance and distribution of species are shifting already and will shift more rapidly as habitats on land, in freshwater, and in the sea are altered due to increasing temperatures and related environmental changes. It remains to be seen if past changes are all tied to global climate change or if they are a result of some other variability, but they represent a proxy for how species may shift in a warmer climate.
Among the observed species changes: Insects are moving in from the south of Oregon, frogs are reproducing earlier in the year and land birds are shifting their distributions northward and migrating earlier. Freshwater fish are losing their cool-water habitats. In the marine environment, algal blooms have increased (figure 11) and the highly predatory Humboldt squid have shifted their distribution from subtropical and tropical regions, making an appearance off the coast of Oregon in the last few years.
In a warmer climate, plant and animal species may have to shift upward or northward on land or deeper at sea for survival. Rare or endangered species may become less abundant or extinct; insect pests, invasive species and harmful algal blooms may become more abundant. Declines in the abundance of species may be caused directly by physiological stress related to changes in temperature, water availability, and other environmental shifts, and/or indirectly by habitat degradation and negative interactions with species that are benefited by climate change (diseases, parasites, predators, and competitors).
Understanding the responses of Oregon’s fish and wildlife to climate change will require a better understanding of smaller organisms and insects and ocean species. Knowledge of ecological interactions will be crucial for understanding the related effects of climate change (increased predation or competition, for example). Management and natural resource polices that protect intact ecosystems are a tool for adaptation; native species can live and migrate to these safe refugia.
Sytsma, M.D. 2010. Case Study 7: Oregon's Fish and Wildlife in a Changing Climate. In: The Oregon Climate Change Assessment Report. K.D. Dello and P.W. Mote (eds). Oregon Cimate Change Research Institute, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.