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Dunn, DC, Vandover CL, Etter RJ, Smith CR, Levin LA, Morato T, Colaco A, Dale AC, Gebruk AV, Gjerde KM, Halpin PN, Howell KL, Johnson D, Perez JAA, Ribeiro MC, Stuckas H, Weaver P, Participants SW.  2018.  A strategy for the conservation of biodiversity on mid-ocean ridges from deep-sea mining. Science Advances. 4   10.1126/sciadv.aar4313   AbstractWebsite

Mineral exploitation has spread from land to shallow coastal waters and is now planned for the offshore, deep seabed. Large seafloor areas are being approved for exploration for seafloor mineral deposits, creating an urgent need for regional environmental management plans. Networks of areas where mining and mining impacts are prohibited are key elements of these plans. We adapt marine reserve design principles to the distinctive biophysical environment of mid-ocean ridges, offer a framework for design and evaluation of these networks to support conservation of benthic ecosystems on mid-ocean ridges, and introduce projected climate-induced changes in the deep sea to the evaluation of reserve design. We enumerate a suite of metrics to measure network performance against conservation targets and network design criteria promulgated by the Convention on Biological Diversity. We apply these metrics to network scenarios on the northern and equatorial Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where contractors are exploring for seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits. A latitudinally distributed network of areas performs well at (i) capturing ecologically important areas and 30 to 50% of the spreading ridge areas, (ii) replicating representative areas, (iii) maintaining along-ridge population connectivity, and (iv) protecting areas potentially less affected by climate-related changes. Critically, the network design is adaptive, allowing for refinement based on new knowledge and the location of mining sites, provided that design principles and conservation targets are maintained. This framework can be applied along the global mid-ocean ridge system as a precautionary measure to protect biodiversity and ecosystem function from impacts of SMS mining.

Dobretsov, S, Xiong HR, Xu Y, Levin LA, Qian PY.  2007.  Novel antifoulants: Inhibition of larval attachment by proteases. Marine Biotechnology. 9:388-397.   10.1007/s10126-007-7091-z   AbstractWebsite

We investigated the effect of commercially available enzymes (alpha-amylase, alpha-galactosidase, papain, trypsin, and lipase) as well as proteases from deep-sea bacteria on the larval attachment of the bryozoan Bugula neritina L. The 50% effective concentrations (EC50) of the commercial proteases were 10 times lower than those of other enzymes. Crude proteases from six deep-sea Psendoalteromonas species significantly decreased larval attachment at concentrations of 0.03 to 1 mIU ml(-1). The EC50 of the pure protease from the bacterium Pseudoalteromonas issachenkonii UST041101-043 was close to 1 ng ml(-1) (0.1 mrU ml(-1)). The protease and trypsin individually incorporated in a water-soluble paint matrix inhibited biofouling in a field experiment. There are certain correlations between production of proteases by bacterial films and inhibition of larval attachment. None of the bacteria with biofilms that induced attachment of B. neritina produced proteolytic enzymes, whereas most of the bacteria that formed inhibitive biofilms produced proteases. Our investigation demonstrated the potential use of proteolytic enzymes for antifouling defense.

Dibacco, C, Levin LA.  2000.  Development and application of elemental fingerprinting to track the dispersal of marine invertebrate larvae. Limnology and Oceanography. 45:871-880. AbstractWebsite

The early life history of many marine benthic invertebrate and fish species involves a planktonic larval stage that allows exchange of individuals among separated adult populations. Here, we demonstrate how natural and anthropogenic trace elements can be used to determine larval origins and assess bay-ocean exchange of invertebrate larvae. Trace elements can be effective site markers for estuaries because run-off and pollutant loading often impart distinct elemental signatures to bay habitats relative to nearshore coastal environments. Crab larvae originating from San Diego Bay (SDB) were distinguished from those originating in neighboring embayments and exposed coastal habitats by comparing multiple trace-element concentrations ("fingerprints") in individuals. Discriminant function analysis (DFA) was used to characterize stage I zoeae of the striped shore crab, Pachygrapsus crassipes, of known origin (reference larvae) via trace-elemental composition (i.e., Cu, Zn, Mn, Sr, Ca). Linear discriminant functions were used to identify the origin and characterize the exchange of stage I P. crassipes zoeae between SDB and the nearshore coastal environment during one spring tidal cycle. Elemental fingerprinting revealed that most (87%) of the stage I larvae collected at the bay entrance during the flood tide were larvae of SDB origin that were reentering the bay. Nearly one third of zoeae sampled (32%) at the entrance during ebb tide were coastal larvae leaving the bay and returning to open water. The observed bidirectional exchange contrasts with the unidirectional transport of zoeae out of the bay predicted from stage I vertical migratory behavior. Because P. crassipes zoeal survivorship is lower in SDB than in coastal waters, bay-ocean exchange has significant implications for the dynamics of P. crassipes populations. Trace-elemental fingerprinting of invertebrate larvae promises to facilitate investigations of many previously intractable questions about larval transport and dynamics.

Dibacco, C, Levin LA, Sala E.  2006.  Connectivity in marine systems: the importance of larval and spore dispersal. Connectivity Conservation. ( Crooks KR, Sanjayan A, Eds.).:157-183., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Abstract
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Depatra, KD, Levin LA.  1989.  Evidence of the passive deposition of meiofauna into fiddler crab burrows. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 125:173-192.   10.1016/0022-0981(89)90095-6   AbstractWebsite

Small-scale biogenic depressions are known to accumulate suspended particles from the water column. Fiddler crab Uca spp. burrows are prevalent depressions in salt marsh sediments and provide habitats for numerous meiofauna. This research investigated the distribution of meiofauna in fiddler crab burrows in a North Carolina salt marsh and examined the hypothesis that patterns of meiofauna abundance in these burrows are the result of passive accumulation of meiofauna. Burrow sediments contained higher densities of total meiofauna than ambient marsh sediments. The differential collection of meiofauna in large (1.6 cm diameter) vs. small (1.1 cm diameter) burrow mimics (test tubes) placed in the field over one tidal cycle suggested that (a) meiofauna are passively trapped in burrows and (b) burrow morphology may cause differential deposition into burrows. These findings were supported by observations of water flow patterns over large and small burrow mimics in a flume in which dye was entrained 0.5–3.5 cm into tubes. Entrainment of meiofauna appeared more likely at flow speeds of 4.3 than 2.5 or 8.7cm·s−1. Adult copepods, foraminifera, and adult and larval polychaetes were equally abundant in natural Uca burrows at all depths sampled. Nematodes, ostracods, juvenile copepods, copepod and noncopepod nauplii, and turbellarians were less abundant in deep (3–16 cm) than shallow (<3 cm) burrow sediments.

Demaster, DJ, Thomas CJ, Blair NE, Fornes WL, Plaia G, Levin LA.  2002.  Deposition of bomb (14)C in continental slope sediments of the Mid-Atlantic Bight: assessing organic matter sources and burial rates. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 49:4667-4685.   10.1016/s0967-0645(02)00134-0   AbstractWebsite

As part of the Ocean Margins Program (OMP), organic carbon (14)C measurements have been made on benthic fauna and kasten core sediments from the North Carolina continental slope. These analyses are used to evaluate the nature and burial flux of organic matter in the OMP study area off Cape Hatteras. Despite the fact that surface sediment (14)C contents ranged from -41 to -215 per mil, the benthic fauna (primarily polychactes) all contained significant amounts of bomb-(14)C (body tissue (14)C contents ranging from + 20 to + 82 per mil). Bomb-(14)C clearly is reaching the seabed on the North Carolina slope, and the labile planktonic material carrying this signal is a primary source of nutrition to the benthic ecosystem. The enrichment of (14)C in benthic faunal tissue relative to the (14)C content of bulk surface-sediment organic matter (a difference of similar to 150 per mil) is attributed to a combination of particle selection and selective digestive processes. Organic carbon burial rates from 12 stations on the North Carolina slope varied from 0.02 to 1.7 mol of Cm(-2) yr(-1), with a mean value of 0.7 mol of C m(-2) yr(-1). The accumulation of organic matter on the upper slope accounts for < 1 % of the primary production in the entire continental margin system. The North Carolina margin was deliberately selected because of its potential for offshore transport and high sediment deposition rates, and even in this environment, burial of organic carbon accounts for a very small fraction of the primary production occurring in surface waters. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Demaster, DJ, Pope RH, Levin LA, Blair NE.  1994.  Biological mixing intensity and rates of organic carbon accumulation in North Carolina slope sediments. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 41:735-753.   10.1016/0967-0645(94)90045-0   AbstractWebsite

Sediment accumulation rates and biological mixing intensities were determined at three sites on the North Carolina slope based on profiles of naturally occurring C-14, Pb-210 and(234) Th. The three sites all were at a water depth of 850 m with a spacing of 150-180 km between sites. Sediment accumulation rates increase from south to north from values of 7 cm ky(-1) at Site I, to 160 cm ky(-1) at Site II, to 1100 cm ky(-1) at Site III. The organic carbon burial rate at these sites also increases in the northward direction from 0.65 (Site I) to 20 (Site II) to less than or equal to 150 g C-org m(-2) year(-1) (Site III). These data indicate that continental margin environments can exhibit highly variable carbon fluxes over relatively small distances on the seafloor. The rate of organic carbon accumulation at Site III is one of the highest values reported for the marine environment. Based on these accumulation rates and dissolved inorganic carbon flux estimates from each site, the seabed organic carbon preservation efficiency (i.e. the ratio of C-org accumulation rate to C-org deposition rate times 100) was estimated to vary from 6.0% to 54% to 88% at Sites I, II and III, respectively. The C-14 age of organic matter in surface sediments was older at Site III (1800 years BP) than at Sites I and II (800 years BP), indicating that Site III receives a greater proportion of old sediment from either up-slope areas or from terrigenous sources. Inventories of excess Th-234 (half-life of 24 days) were used as a tracer for particle flux covering the 100 days prior to the October 1989, July-August 1990 and August 1991 cruises. The mean Th-234 inventories al the three sites were 4.7 +/- 1.9, 8.4 +/- 6.3 and 23.1 +/- 7.3 dpm cm(-2) for Sites I, II and III, respectively. Profiles of excess Th-234 activity reveal that the biological mixing intensity is greater at Site III (mean D-b = 19 +/- 11 cm(2) year(-1), n = 5) than at either Site I (mean D-b = 6.0 +/- 6.2 cm(2) year(-1) n = 6) or Site II (mean D-b = 4.6 +/- 5.2 cm(2) year(-1), n = 9). In addition to the trend in mixing coefficients, the depth of particle mixing on a 100-day time scale generally is greater at Site III than at the other two sites. These observations of particle mixing intensity are consistent with the northward increase in the mean abundance of macrofauna (>300 microns) from mean values of 9400 m(-2) at Site I, to 21,400 m(-2) at Site II, to 55,500 m(-2) at Site III. For the three study sites off North Carolina, a strong correlation (R(2) = 0.99,p = 0.06) exists between macrofaunal abundance and the organic carbon deposition rate. An equally strong correlation (R(2) = 0.99, P = 0.04) occurs between macrofaunal abundance and the Th-234 inventories (index of 100-day particle flux). Fine-sand size glass tracer beads were dispersed at these three sites by submersible and then the field plots were sampled similar to 1 year later. The vertical distributions of beads at the three sites are consistent with a higher mixing intensity at Site III than at the other two sites, but the estimated mixing coefficients generally are lower than those determined from the profiles of Th-234. The slower mixing of the glass beads may be the result of their low food value and/or their relatively large size (compared to the surrounding fine-grained sediments).

Davis, JLD, Levin LA.  2002.  Importance of pre-recruitment life-history stages to population dynamics of the woolly sculpin Clinocottus analis. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. 234:229-246.   10.3354/meps234229   AbstractWebsite

The relative influence of pre- versus post-recruitment life-history events on population size has been the subject of much recent debate. In the marine realm, much work has focused on intertidal invertebrates and on tropical reef fishes, with mixed results. We addressed this problem for a temperate intertidal fish, Clinocottus analis. Our main goal was to determine which life-history stage was most responsible for temporal changes in population size from 1996 to 2000 at 2 sites in San Diego, California, both seasonally and during the 1997 to 1998 El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event. We approached the problem using cohort analysis and matrix population modeling. Recruitment pulses were evident in population size structure for up to a year, unobscured by post-recruitment mortality, which was not density-dependent, Recruitment was not correlated to spawning adult biomass of 3 mo earlier, suggesting that egg, larval, or early post-settlement processes during those 3 mo determined the magnitude of recruitment, and ultimately, population size. Stage-structured population projection matrices were constructed to compare population growth rates and sensitivities among seasons and between climate periods (El Nino and non-El Nino), Elasticity (prospective) and decomposition (retrospective) analyses of these matrices indicated that the vital rates to which population growth rate (lambda) was theoretically most sensitive were not necessarily those responsible for observed temporal differences in lambda. Although, was most sensitive to juvenile growth and adult survivorship, fertility (which in this model included fecundity and egg, larval, and early post-settlement survivorship), in addition to juvenile growth, drove observed seasonal differences in lambda C. andlis population size decreased during the 1997 to 1998 El Nino event due to a decrease in recruitment, a decrease in batch fecundity (hydrated eggs per female) and, at 1 site, changes in juvenile survivorship, Results of the study emphasize the power of early life-history events to structure C. analis populations on both seasonal and longer timescales.

Davis, JLD, Levin LA, Walther SM.  2002.  Artificial armored shorelines: sites for open-coast species in a southern California bay. Marine Biology. 140:1249-1262.   10.1007/s00227-002-0779-8   AbstractWebsite

Artificial hard substrates have been used to stabilize naturally soft bay shorelines for centuries. Despite the loss of over half of the natural shoreline in many bays, little attention has been paid to the communities inhabiting armored shorelines and to the ecological implications of armoring. The goal of the present study was to examine factors affecting spatial and temporal variation of intertidal, hard-substrate biota (emergent species and fishes), with emphases on the influence of exposure, distance from the open ocean, and similarity to open-coast, hard-substrate communities. We examined community composition at eight San Diego Bay (California, USA) sites (an exposed and a protected site at four bay locations) in June and November 2000 and two open-coast sites in August 2000. At all bay sites, the shore was armored with granite boulders, a form of shoreline stabilization referred to as "riprap." Community structure was more variable spatially than temporally on the scales we studied, affected more by distance from the bay mouth and exposure to wave energy than by differences between June and November. Exposed sites near the bay mouth were more similar to natural open-coast sites, sharing about 45% of their species, than protected sites and sites farther from the mouth, which shared as few as 8%. Species richness was generally higher in exposed than protected bay sites. Species tended to occur higher in the intertidal zone at exposed than protected sites, and higher in November, when sea level was higher, than in June. Such results will be useful to shoreline managers who examine the ecological implications of hardening long stretches of coastline and may suggest ways to incorporate artificial structures into ecosystems in a more meaningful way.