Publications

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2018
Neira, C, Ingels J, Mendoza G, Hernandez-Lopez E, Levin LA.  2018.  Distribution of meiofauna in bathyal sediments influenced by the oxygen minimum zone off Costa Rica. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5   10.3389/fmars.2018.00448   AbstractWebsite

Ocean deoxygenation has become a topic of increasing concern because of its potential impacts on marine ecosystems, including oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) expansion and subsequent benthic effects. We investigated the influence of oxygen concentration and organic matter (OM) availability on metazoan meiofauna within and below an OMZ in bathyal sediments off Costa Rica, testing the hypothesis that oxygen and OM levels are reflected in meiofaunal community structures and distribution. Mean total densities in our sampling cores (400-1800 m water depth) were highest with 3688 ind. 10 cm(-2) at the OMZ core at 400 m water depth, decreasing rapidly downslope. Nematodes were overall dominant, with a maximum of 99.9% in the OMZ core, followed by copepods (13%), nauplii (4.8%), and polychaetes (3%). Relative copepod and nauplii abundance increased consistently with depth and increasing bottom-water O-2. Meiofaunal composition was significantly different among sites, with lower taxonomic diversity at OMZ sites relative to deeper, oxygenated sites. Vertical distribution patterns within sediments showed that in strongly oxygen-depleted sites less meiofauna was concentrated in the surface sediment than at deeper slope sites. Highest meiofaunal abundance and lowest diversity occurred under lowest oxygen and highest pigment levels, whereas highest diversity occurred under highest oxygen-concentrations and low pigments, as well as high quality of sedimentary pigment (chl a/phaeo) and organic carbon (C/N). The lower meiofaunal diversity, and lower structural and trophic complexity, at oxygen-depleted sites raises concerns about changes in the structure and function of benthic marine ecosystems in the face of OMZ expansions.

2016
Moseman-Valtierra, S, Levin LA, Martin RM.  2016.  Anthropogenic impacts on nitrogen fixation rates between restored and natural Mediterranean salt marshes. Marine Ecology-an Evolutionary Perspective. 37:370-379.   10.1111/maec.12289   AbstractWebsite

To test the effects of site and successional stage on nitrogen fixation rates in salt marshes of the Venice Lagoon, Italy, acetylene reduction assays were performed with Salicornia veneta- and Spartina townsendii-vegetated sediments from three restored (6-14years) and two natural marshes. Average nitrogen fixation (acetylene reduction) rates ranged from 31 to 343 mu mol C2H4.m(-2.)h(-1) among all marshes, with the greatest average rates being from one natural marsh (Tezze Fonde). These high rates are up to six times greater than those reported from Southern California Spartina marshes of similar Mediterranean climate, but substantially lower than those found in moister climates of the Atlantic US coast. Nitrogen fixation rates did not consistently vary between natural and restored marshes within a site (Fossei Est, Tezze Fonde, Cenesa) but were negatively related to assayed plant biomass within the acetylene reduction samples collected among all marshes. Highest nitrogen fixation rates were found at Tezze Fonde, the location closest to the city of Venice, in both natural and restored marshes, suggesting possible site-specific impacts of anthropogenic stress on marsh succession.

2013
Mora, C, Wei CL, Rollo A, Amaro T, Baco AR, Billett D, Bopp L, Chen Q, Collier M, Danovaro R, Gooday AJ, Grupe BM, Halloran PR, Ingels J, Jones DOB, Levin LA, Nakano H, Norling K, Ramirez-Llodra E, Rex M, Ruhl HA, Smith CR, Sweetman AK, Thurber AR, Tjiputra JF, Usseglio P, Watling L, Wu TW, Yasuhara M.  2013.  Biotic and human vulnerability to projected changes in ocean biogeochemistry over the 21st century. Plos Biology. 11   10.1371/journal.pbio.1001682   AbstractWebsite

Ongoing greenhouse gas emissions can modify climate processes and induce shifts in ocean temperature, pH, oxygen concentration, and productivity, which in turn could alter biological and social systems. Here, we provide a synoptic global assessment of the simultaneous changes in future ocean biogeochemical variables over marine biota and their broader implications for people. We analyzed modern Earth System Models forced by greenhouse gas concentration pathways until 2100 and showed that the entire world's ocean surface will be simultaneously impacted by varying intensities of ocean warming, acidification, oxygen depletion, or shortfalls in productivity. In contrast, only a small fraction of the world's ocean surface, mostly in polar regions, will experience increased oxygenation and productivity, while almost nowhere will there be ocean cooling or pH elevation. We compiled the global distribution of 32 marine habitats and biodiversity hotspots and found that they would all experience simultaneous exposure to changes in multiple biogeochemical variables. This superposition highlights the high risk for synergistic ecosystem responses, the suite of physiological adaptations needed to cope with future climate change, and the potential for reorganization of global biodiversity patterns. If co-occurring biogeochemical changes influence the delivery of ocean goods and services, then they could also have a considerable effect on human welfare. Approximately 470 to 870 million of the poorest people in the world rely heavily on the ocean for food, jobs, and revenues and live in countries that will be most affected by simultaneous changes in ocean biogeochemistry. These results highlight the high risk of degradation of marine ecosystems and associated human hardship expected in a future following current trends in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

2010
Moseman-Valtierra, SM, Armaiz-Nolla K, Levin LA.  2010.  Wetland response to sedimentation and nitrogen loading: diversification and inhibition of nitrogen-fixing microbes. Ecological Applications. 20:1556-1568.   10.1890/08-1881.1   AbstractWebsite

Anthropogenic inputs of nutrients and sediment simultaneously impact coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, especially during storms. Independent and combined effects of sediment and ammonium nitrate loading on nitrogen fixation rates and diversity of microbes that fix nitrogen (diazotrophs) were tested via field manipulations in Spartina foliosa and unvegetated zones at Tijuana Estuary (California, USA). This estuary is subject to episodic nitrogen enrichment and sedimentation associated with rain-driven flooding and slope instabilities, the latter of which may worsen as the Triple Border Fence is constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border. Responses of diazotrophs were assessed over 17 days using acetylene reduction assays and genetic fingerprinting (terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism [T-RFLP]) of nifH, which codes for dinitrogenase reductase. Sulfate-reducing bacteria performed similar to 70% of nitrogen fixation in Spartina foliosa rhizospheres in the absence of nitrogen loading, based on sodium molybdate inhibitions in the laboratory. Following nutrient additions, richness (number of T-RFs [terminal restriction fragments]) and evenness (relative T-RF fluorescence) of diazotrophs in surface sediments increased, but nitrogen fixation rates decreased significantly within 17 days. These responses illustrate, within a microbial community, conformance to a more general ecological pattern of high function among assemblages of low diversity. Diazotroph community composition (T-RF profiles) and rhizosphere diversity were not affected. Pore water ammonium concentrations were higher and more persistent for 17 days in plots receiving sediment additions (1 cm deep), suggesting that recovery of diazotroph functions may be delayed by the combination of sediment and nutrient inputs. Nitrogen fixation constitutes a mechanism for rapid transfer of fixed N to S. foliosa roots and a variety of primary consumers (within 3 and 8 days, respectively), as determined via (15)N(2) enrichment studies with in situ microcosms of intact marsh sediment. Thus, long-term declines in nitrogen fixation rates in response to increasingly frequent nutrient loading and sedimentation may potentially alter nitrogen sources for vascular plants as well as trophic pathways in wetland ecosystems.