Watson, A., J. Reece, B.E. Tirpak, C. K. Edwards, L. Geselbracht, M. Woodrey, M. LaPeyre, and P. S. Dalyander. 2015. The Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment: Mangrove, Tidal Emergent Marsh, Barrier Islands, and Oyster Reef.
Climate, sea-level rise, and urbanization are undergoing unprecedented levels of change and are expected to have large effects on natural resources particularly along the Gulf of Mexico coastline (Gulf Coast). Management decisions to address these effects (i.e., adaptation) require an understanding of the relative vulnerability of various resources to these stressors. To meet this need, the four Landscape Conservation Cooperatives along the Gulf partnered with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to conduct the Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment (GCVA). The GCVA uses an expert-opinion approach to qualitatively assess the vulnerability of four ecosystems: mangrove, oyster reef, tidal emergent marsh, and barrier islands, and a suite of wildlife species that dependent on them. Vulnerability incorporates the aspects of exposure and sensitivity to threat, coupled with the adaptive capacity to mitigate that threat. Potential impact and adaptive capacity reflect natural history features of target organisms and systems. More than 50 individuals participated in the completion of the GCVA, facilitated via Ecosystem and Species Expert Teams. Results suggest that, in general, the species assessed demonstrate higher vulnerability than broader ecosystems, likely due to more specialized natural history requirements.