Habitat Change

Climate Change - Habitat ChangeClimate change is projected to lead to changes to habitat, both on land and in the water.
  • On land, this could lead to extending the growing season for crops and gardens. It could put stress on some native plants, and could impact the viability of some rare and endangered types of vegetation. It could also lead to an increase in certain insects and other pests, with a resulting in impacts on human health. For example, a shorter frost season could threaten the viability of growing cranberries, whose harvest is of cultural significance to the Wampanoags.
  • In the ocean, the increase in carbon dioxide is making the water more acidic. This acidification is reducing the area in which organisms that make their shells out of either aragonite or calcite, threatening the survival of shellfish and affecting fish supplies.

Impacts on Wetlands

Salt marshes and other wetlands are common along the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and throughout our ponds. These are very important environments because they provide habitat to many different organisms including all levels of the food chain. Tides, wave energy, and sediment deposit are directly affected by wetlands; during storms the wetland takes some impact from flooding and erosion.

If unconstrained, marsh and other wetlands would thrive in the environment that will be produced with the modeled climate change. Marsh can easily migrate to areas that are conducive to their needs and wetlands are a tough ecosystem where gasses and excess nutrient deposits will not harm the growth and development of the wetlands.

However, wetland migration can be hampered by the presence of walls and other man-made barriers. Also, if the sea level rises too fast, the wetlands may not have enough time to migrate. If a wetland cannot migrate further inland it will have to quickly grow vertically with the rising sea levels to prevent from drowning. Monitoring of wetlands is necessary to know if this growth is possible, if not the wetlands will die.

The MVC has mapped existing wetlands in six Island ponds (Black Point Pond, Chilmark Pond, Menemsha Pond, Farm Pond, Sengekontacket Pond and Poucha Pond) and looked at whether or not they have room to migrate. A working group with made up of representatives of the conservation commissions of all six Island towns is looking at possible mitigation measures and how changes to wetlands can be monitored.



Office location:

Office location:

The Stone Building
33 New York Avenue
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557

Telephone: 508-693-3453
Fax: 508-693-7894

Mailing Address

Mailing address:

Martha's Vineyard Commission
P.O. Box 1447
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557

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