Climate change impacts in European estuaries
Lobry J, Chevillot X, Carassou L*
National Research Institute for Science and Technology in Environment and Agriculture (Irstea), Bordeaux center, Research Unit Aquatic Ecology and Global Change (EABX), Estuarine Ecosystem Functioning team
Estuaries, as transition ecosystems between marine and freshwater habitats, are characterized by dynamic and complex environmental and biological properties. Direct effects of climate change in estuaries include an increase in water temperature and variations in salinity spatial patterns. Changes in salinity are directly linked with climate-related variations in precipitations, and, in some instances, indirectly linked with changes in agricultural water management practices on watersheds generated by this rain effect. Fish and crustacean assemblages respond to these combined factors, with observed modifications of species distribution and phenology. Additionally, many fish and some crustacean species in estuaries are targeted by commercial fisheries, and subjected to other anthropogenic disturbances such as pollution. As the largest macrotidal estuary in Europe that has been monitored for more than three decades, the Gironde estuary will be used as a case study for illustrating such climate change impacts in European estuaries.