Emily Dangremond, assistant professor of biology at Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campus, is co-author of new groundbreaking research linking climate change to shifts in makeup of ocean shorelines.
In a study published online in October in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dangremond and seven researchers correlated shifts in the species composition of northeast Florida’s coastal ecosystems with climate cycles over the last 250 years.
Using computer modeling, historic aerial photos and articles, some dating for the first time back to the 1700s, the UCLA-led research team found that mangroves typically proliferate on the northeast Florida coastline when temperatures are warm, but die back in freezes, replaced by salt marshes.
Using climate model projections through 2100, which suggest temperatures will continue to warm up, the research team further found that mangroves could become the Florida coastline’s permanent ecosystem, spreading northward along the East Coast into the Carolinas and Georgia – a change that has already begun taking place.
“Projections for our coming climate suggest there will be fewer freezes into the future and that could mean mangroves are here to stay along parts of the East Coast,” said Dangremond.
That means manatees, tree crabs, oysters and other species that live in a mangrove ecosystem will thrive, while migratory shorebirds, bats, burrowing crabs and others that thrive in salt marshes will dwindle.
“This study is a new approach to looking at not only how coastlines could shift with climate change, but also can be a window into how the world in general is changing,” she said.
An expert on the impact of climate change, Dangremond has been studying patterns of mangroves along coastlines in the Americas, including Mexico and Panama, for more than a decade.
Since joining Roosevelt, she has also recently begun research with her students on climate warming and changes to local ecosystems, including declining populations of a species found in Midwest forests called the starflower. While tropical species such as mangroves might thrive in a warming world, northern species such as starflower are becoming stressed as their habitats become less hospitable. Dangremond and her students have begun taking an historical approach to studying starflower, comparing herbarium specimens collected in the 1800s to observations made in recent years.ges taking place to a species found in prairies called the Star Flower.
For an interview with Dangremond, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Laura Janota at email@example.com. To learn more, about the new study visit: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/10/01/1902181116