Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes personatus)

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Category: Fish
Vulnerability to climate change (More details)


Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change


Though there is limited information regarding the sensitivity of Pacific sand lance to climate change, their sensitivity is likely to stem from climate-induced changes in their intertidal spawning habitat and changes in prey distribution and abundance. Increasing air and sea surface temperatures could lead to suboptimal sediment temperature and lower oxygen conditions in sediments where sand lance prefer to burrow, forcing sand lance to emerge from the sediment and making them more susceptible to predation. Sand lance tend to return to the same burrowing sediment habitat interannually, so changes in nearshore habitat (e.g., due to rising sea level or coastal erosion from increased storms) could limit burrowing and spawning habitat availability. Increasing sea surface temperature could also lead to declines and changes in distribution in zooplankton, limited prey availability for sand lance, and decreased recruitment.

Confidence: Moderate

Exposure to climate change


  • Increased air and ocean temperatures
  • Decreased oxygen
  • Sea level rise
  • Increased coastal erosion
Confidence: Moderate


This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.
This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.