The population of the United States in 2002 was about 288 million, up from nearly 249 million in 1990. That increase could spell trouble for ecosystems in coastal areas because population densities are increasing at faster rates in those places than elsewhere, says Kristen Crossett of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md.
If this trend continues, coastal ecosystems, which include hundreds of plants and animal species, will experience shrinking habitats. Furthermore, increased runoff of fertilizers and other nutrients will probably stimulate harmful algal blooms in some areas.
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