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Assessing the vulnerability of marine life to climate change in the Pacific Region
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  • Jonatha Giddens,
  • Donald Kobayashi,
  • Mark Nelson
Jonatha Giddens
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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Donald Kobayashi
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Mark Nelson
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Abstract

Our changing climate poses growing challenges for the effective management of marine life, ocean ecosystems, and the human communities that depend upon them. Which species are most vulnerable to climate change and where should science and management focus efforts to reduce these risks? To address these questions, the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy called for vulnerability assessments in each of NOAA's ocean regions. The Pacific Islands Vulnerability Assessment (PIVA) project assessed the vulnerability of 83 marine taxa to the impacts of climate change. In a Rapid Vulnerability Assessment framework, this project utilized expert knowledge, literature review, and climate projection models to synthesize the best available science towards answering these questions. Here we: (1) provide a relative climate vulnerability ranking across species; (2) identify key attributes and factors that drive this vulnerability; and (3) identify key data gaps in understanding and mitigating climate change impacts to living marine resources. The invertebrate group ranked as most vulnerable and pelagic and coastal group ranked as least vulnerable. Sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and oxygen concentration were the three main exposure drivers of vulnerability. This project ultimately advances our understanding of the research needs and the management options to both sustain marine life and seafood security in the Pacific Ocean and beyond.