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Ecology and Society

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Spatial analysis (Statistics), Coastal ecology, Migration patterns, Sea level


Coastal wetland plants are expected to respond to global sea level rise by migrating toward higher elevations. Housing, infrastructure, and other anthropogenic modifications are expected to limit the space available for this potential migration. Here, we explore the ecological and economic effects of projected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report sea level changes at the plant community scale using the highest horizontal (1 m) and vertical (0.01 m) resolution data available, using a 6 x 6 km area as an example. Our findings show that salt marshes do not always lose land with increasing rates of sea level rise. We found that the lower bound of the IPCC 2007 potential rise (0.18 m by 2095) actually increased the total marsh area. This low rise scenario resulted in a net gain in ecosystem service values on public property, whereas market-based economic losses were predicted for private property. The upper rise scenario (0.59 m by 2095) resulted in both public and private economic losses for this same area. Our work highlights the trade-offs between public and privately held value under the various IPCC 2007 climate change scenarios. We conclude that as wetlands migrate inland into urbanized regions, their survival is likely to be dependent on the rate of return on property and housing investments.


This is the publisher's final PDF. Article appears in Ecology and Society

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