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News Release

February 11, 2008
Scott Phillips 443-498-5552

Many Factors Will Challenge the Recovery of the Chesapeake Bay

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The Chesapeake Bay is affected by multiple factors, ranging from population growth to climate variability, which will challenge the recovery of this important ecosystem. These findings released today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are part of a comprehensive 5-year summary of the major factors affecting the health of the Bay ecosystem and the implications for its management.

Population growth and agricultural lands have contributed to an overabundance of nutrients, sediment, and contaminants entering the Bay, and loss of habitats that can retain these pollutants. Climate change and variability have caused water temperatures in the Bay to exhibit greater extremes during the 20th century than the previous 2,000 years. Sea-level rise related to climate change is contributing to the loss of vital coastal wetlands. The cumulative impact of pollutants, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and disease has affected the health of fish and bird populations in the Bay and its watershed.

"There are multiple factors affecting the Bay ecosystem, which continue to challenge its recovery," said Scott Phillips, the Coordinator of USGS Chesapeake Bay studies. "These findings provide implications about the types and locations of actions needed for the recovery of the Bay ecosystem."

"Using the best science available from all of our partners to continually improve our understanding of the Bay ecosystem is a hallmark of the Chesapeake Bay Program. This information and knowledge enables us to make the most informed and cost-effective decisions to restore and protect the Bay and its watershed," said Environmental Protection Agency's Jeffrey Lape, Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Among the key findings on land use and its relation to water quality and habitats:

Among the key findings on the fish and bird populations:

Among the key findings related to climate change:

USGS Circular 1316, "Synthesis of USGS Science for the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem and Implications for Environmental Management," is a product of the USGS Chesapeake Bay studies, which provide integrated science for improved understanding and management of the Bay ecosystem. More information about USGS Chesapeake Bay studies, and how to obtain the report, can be found at

USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit

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