Environmental and Ecological Effects of Climate Change on Venomous Marine and Amphibious Species in the Wilderness


Robert K Needleman, Isabelle P Neylan, and Timothy B Erickson. 2018. “Environmental and Ecological Effects of Climate Change on Venomous Marine and Amphibious Species in the Wilderness.” Wilderness Environ Med, 29, 3, Pp. 343-356.


INTRODUCTION: Recent analyses of data show a warming trend in global average air and sea surface ocean temperatures. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, the sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased. This article will focus on climate change and projected effects on venomous marine and amphibious creatures with the potential impact on human health. METHODS: Retrospective analysis of environmental, ecological, and medical literature with a focus on climate change, toxinology, and future modeling specific to venomous aquatic and amphibious creatures. Species included venomous jellyfish, poisonous fish, crown-of-thorns starfish, sea snakes, and toxic frogs. RESULTS: In several projected scenarios, rising temperatures, weather extremes, and shifts in seasons will increase poisonous population numbers, particularly with certain marine creatures like jellyfish and crown-of-thorns starfish. Habitat expansions by lionfish and sea snakes are projected to occur. These phenomena, along with increases in human populations and coastal development will likely increase human-animal encounters. Other species, particularly amphibious toxic frogs, are declining rapidly due to their sensitivity to any temperature change or subtle alterations in the stability of their environment. If temperatures continue to rise to record levels over the next decades, it is predicted that the populations of these once plentiful and critically important animals to the aquatic ecosystem will decline and their geographic distributions will shrink. CONCLUSION: Review of the literature investigating the effect and forecasts of climate change on venomous marine and amphibious creatures has demonstrated that temperature extremes and changes to climatic norms will likely have a dramatic effect on these toxicological organisms. The effects of climate change on these species through temperature alteration and rising coastal waters will influence each species differently and in turn potentially affect commercial industries, travel, tourism, and human health.