Presenter Information

Eric LawrenceFollow

Presentation Title

Integrating Regional Climate Change Stressors and Human Health and Well-Being into Ecological Risk Assessment

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Climate change is expected to have widespread impacts on ecosystem services in the Salish Sea region. In this ongoing research, we focused on the question of how stressors generated by climate change affect contaminant toxicity to species in the Skagit River watershed. Specifically we assessed how those combined effects potentially influence risks to the river’s ecosystem services that, in turn, impact human health and well-being. To answer this question, we are conducting an ecological risk assessment using the Bayesian network Relative Risk Model (BN-RRM). It is a quantitative, probability-based model that calculates complex relationships between ecological variables to provide estimates of risk to valued receptors (endpoints). The Skagit River study area contains important habitats for native salmon species and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). These species provide numerous ecological, economic, cultural, and spiritual benefits to humans. Its floodplains also provide fertile, highly productive croplands, making it an important agricultural center in the region. Pesticide use on croplands in the watershed currently pose risks to these non-target species that may increase in severity with climate change. Increasing water temperature, decreasing dissolved oxygen levels, and changes in seawater pH are of particular concern, as are changing river and stream flows, increasing storm event frequency and intensity, and sea level rise. These stressors have potential to impact human health and well-being endpoints such as human health, water quality, salmon fisheries, tribal cultural and community health indicators, recreation areas, tourism, agriculture, boating, fishing, and shellfish harvesting. The BN-RRM will enable us to calculate the risks posed by various stressors on these select endpoints in the Skagit River watershed due to climate change. Once constructed the BN-RRM can also serve as a useful tool for resource managers and decision-makers as part of an adaptive management process and to direct future research efforts in the watershed, as well as in other watersheds in the Salish Sea region.

Start Date

10-5-2018 10:45 AM

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May 10th, 10:45 AM

Integrating Regional Climate Change Stressors and Human Health and Well-Being into Ecological Risk Assessment

Climate change is expected to have widespread impacts on ecosystem services in the Salish Sea region. In this ongoing research, we focused on the question of how stressors generated by climate change affect contaminant toxicity to species in the Skagit River watershed. Specifically we assessed how those combined effects potentially influence risks to the river’s ecosystem services that, in turn, impact human health and well-being. To answer this question, we are conducting an ecological risk assessment using the Bayesian network Relative Risk Model (BN-RRM). It is a quantitative, probability-based model that calculates complex relationships between ecological variables to provide estimates of risk to valued receptors (endpoints). The Skagit River study area contains important habitats for native salmon species and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). These species provide numerous ecological, economic, cultural, and spiritual benefits to humans. Its floodplains also provide fertile, highly productive croplands, making it an important agricultural center in the region. Pesticide use on croplands in the watershed currently pose risks to these non-target species that may increase in severity with climate change. Increasing water temperature, decreasing dissolved oxygen levels, and changes in seawater pH are of particular concern, as are changing river and stream flows, increasing storm event frequency and intensity, and sea level rise. These stressors have potential to impact human health and well-being endpoints such as human health, water quality, salmon fisheries, tribal cultural and community health indicators, recreation areas, tourism, agriculture, boating, fishing, and shellfish harvesting. The BN-RRM will enable us to calculate the risks posed by various stressors on these select endpoints in the Skagit River watershed due to climate change. Once constructed the BN-RRM can also serve as a useful tool for resource managers and decision-makers as part of an adaptive management process and to direct future research efforts in the watershed, as well as in other watersheds in the Salish Sea region.