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Webb, SJ, Rabsattt T, Erazo N, Bowman JS.  2019.  Impacts of Zostera eelgrasses on microbial community structure in San Diego coastal waters. Elementa-Science of the Anthropocene. 7   10.1525/elementa.350   AbstractWebsite

Marine eelgrasses are influential to their surrounding environments through their many ecosystem services, ranging from the provisioning of food and shelter for marine life to serving as a natural defense against pollution and pathogenic bacteria. In the marine waters of San Diego, CA, USA, eelgrass beds comprised of Zostera spp. are an integral part of the coastal ecosystem. To evaluate the impact of eelgrass on bacterial and archaeal community structure we collected water samples in San Diego Bay and sequenced the 16S rRNA gene from paired eelgrass-present and eelgrass-absent sites. To test the hypothesis that microbial community structure is influenced by the presence of eelgrass we applied mixed effects models to these data and to bacterial abundance data derived by flow cytometry. This approach allowed us to identify specific microbial taxa that were differentially present at eelgrass-present and eelgrass-absent sites. Principal coordinate analysis organized the samples by location (inner vs. outer bay) along the first axis, where the first two axes accounted for a 90.8% of the variance in microbial community structure among the samples. Differentially present bacterial taxa included members of the order Rickettsiales, family Flavobacteriaceae, genus Tenacibaculum and members of the order Pseudomonadales. These findings constitute a unique look into the microbial composition of San Diego Bay and examine how eelgrasses contribute to marine ecosystem health, e.g., by supporting specific microbial communities and by filtering and trapping potentially harmful bacteria to the benefit of marine organisms.

Bowman, JS, Kavanaugh MT, Doney SC, Ducklow HW.  2018.  Recurrent seascape units identify key ecological processes along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Global Change Biology. 24:3065-3078.   10.1111/gcb.14161   AbstractWebsite

The western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) is a bellwether of global climate change and natural laboratory for identifying interactions between climate and ecosystems. The Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project has collected data on key ecological and environmental processes along the WAP since 1993. To better understand how key ecological parameters are changing across space and time, we developed a novel seascape classification approach based on insitu temperature, salinity, chlorophyll a, nitrate+nitrite, phosphate, and silicate. We anticipate that this approach will be broadly applicable to other geographical areas. Through the application of self-organizing maps (SOMs), we identified eight recurrent seascape units (SUs) in these data. These SUs have strong fidelity to known regional water masses but with an additional layer of biogeochemical detail, allowing us to identify multiple distinct nutrient profiles in several water masses. To identify the temporal and spatial distribution of these SUs, we mapped them across the Palmer LTER sampling grid via objective mapping of the original parameters. Analysis of the abundance and distribution of SUs since 1993 suggests two year types characterized by the partitioning of chlorophyll a into SUs with different spatial characteristics. By developing generalized linear models for correlated, time-lagged external drivers, we conclude that early spring sea ice conditions exert a strong influence on the distribution of chlorophyll a and nutrients along the WAP, but not necessarily the total chlorophyll a inventory. Because the distribution and density of phytoplankton biomass can have an impact on biomass transfer to the upper trophic levels, these results highlight anticipated links between the WAP marine ecosystem and climate.