Connecticut: Plants and Wildlife
Significant increase in summer drying is expected to change tree species composition in forested regions and an overall decrease in forested lands. With warmer conditions, it is expected that forested lands will shift northward, and grasslands and pasture will replace many forested areas. An overall loss of forestlands of 30%-60% is projected in Connecticut. Changing climate has the ability to increase occurrence of wildfires by increasing drought conditions, increasing insect pest and disease pressure with longer growing season, and causing tree-community shifts to more fire-prone species. Increased wild fire events will increase the rate at which invasive plant species will be able to encroach on forested lands. Initial increases in forest growth may be observed in response to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2, but within a short amount of time forests will begin to be adversely affected by high amounts of ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is
damaging to trees and plants. With lengthened growing seasons and warmer temperatures, the growth and reproductive capability of forest pest insects will be increased as will their geographical range. With forest habitat losses, it is expected that the area’s songbirds will also face decline, including species like the Baltimore oriole, the American goldfinch and the song sparrow.
Tidal marshes and beach/dune ecosystems are especially at risk from the effects of climate change and will be adversely affected by increases in storm frequency, temperature, and saltwater infiltration. Invasive plant and wildlife species better adapted to hotter and drier conditions predicted by climate change models have a higher chance of successfully overtaking native species, which will experience a decrease in geographic range due to stress from climate change. These stresses include drying of inland wetland habitat, increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and changes in atmospheric chemical composition. The slow rate of sediment accretion in wetlands is likely to cause increased inundation and flooding as sea levels rise in these wetlands, causing permanent inundation in some areas, increased saltwater intrusion, and adversely affecting plant and wildlife species such as the endangered Roseate tern.
Climate changes affecting diadromous fish species by altering temperature and productivity ratios of sea and freshwater systems threatens to disrupt development, reproduction and life history strategies of species like sea lamprey, sturgeon, Atlantic salmon, sea-run trout, striped bass and white perch.