Climate Change, precipitation and impacts on an estuarine refuge from disease

Oysters play important roles in estuarine ecosystems but have suffered recently due to overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss. A tradeoff between growth rate and disease prevalence as a function of salinity makes the estuarine salinity transition of special concern for oyster survival and restoration. Estuarine salinity varies with discharge, so increases or decreases in precipitation with climate change may shift regions of low salinity and disease refuge away from optimal oyster bottom habitat, negatively impacting reproduction and survival. Temperature is an additional factor for oyster survival, and recent temperature increases have increased vulnerability to disease in higher salinity regions.