Publications

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2013
Connell, SD, Kroeker KJ, Fabricius KE, Kline DI, Russell BD.  2013.  The other ocean acidification problem: CO2 as a resource among competitors for ecosystem dominance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 368   10.1098/rstb.2012.0442   AbstractWebsite

Predictions concerning the consequences of the oceanic uptake of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) have been primarily occupied with the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying organisms, particularly those critical to the formation of habitats (e. g. coral reefs) or their maintenance (e. g. grazing echinoderms). This focus overlooks direct and indirect effects of CO2 on non-calcareous taxa that play critical roles in ecosystem shifts (e. g. competitors). We present the model that future atmospheric [CO2] may act as a resource for mat-forming algae, a diverse and widespread group known to reduce the resilience of kelp forests and coral reefs. We test this hypothesis by combining laboratory and field CO2 experiments and data from 'natural' volcanic CO2 vents. We show that mats have enhanced productivity in experiments and more expansive covers in situ under projected near-future CO2 conditions both in temperate and tropical conditions. The benefits of CO2 are likely to vary among species of producers, potentially leading to shifts in species dominance in a high CO2 world. We explore how ocean acidification combines with other environmental changes across a number of scales, and raise awareness of CO2 as a resource whose change in availability could have wide-ranging community consequences beyond its direct effects.

2004
Levitan, DR, Fukami H, Jara J, Kline D, McGovern TM, McGhee KE, Swanson CA, Knowlton N.  2004.  Mechanisms of reproductive isolation among sympatric broadcast-spawning corals of the Montastraea annularis species complex. Evolution. 58:308-323.   10.1554/02-700   AbstractWebsite

Many coral species spawn simultaneously and have compatible gametes, leading to controversy over the nature of species boundaries and the frequency with which hybridization occurs. Three western Atlantic corals, Montastraea annularis, M. faveolata, and M. franksi, typify this controversy; they all spawn sympatrically on the same evenings after the fall full moons. Here we show, in both Panama and the Bahamas for multiple years, how a variety of mechanisms may act in concert to reproductively isolate all three species. Field studies indicate that M. franksi spawns two hours earlier than the other two species, and the eggs released during this earlier period disperse an average of 500 m by the time the other species spawn. Field measures of fertilization indicate that peak fertilization occurs when spawning synchrony is high and that corals that spawn at the tails of the spawning distributions have greatly reduced fertilization success. Laboratory studies indicate that there is a gametic incompatibility between M. faveolata and the other two species. There are regional differences in the gametic compatibility of M. franksi and M. annularis. In Panama, the two species are completely compatible, whereas in the Bahamas, M. franksi sperm can fertilize M. annularis eggs but the reciprocal cross often fails. Gamete age influences patterns of fertilization, such that very young eggs seem resistant to fertilization and old sperm lose viability after two hours. In sum, the combination of temporal differences in spawning, sperm aging, gamete dispersal and dilution, and gametic incompatibility act in various combinations among the three species, making it unlikely that hybrid fertilization would occur.