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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.

López-Duarte, PC, Carson HS, Cook GS, Fodrie JF, Becker BJ, DiBacco C, Levin LA.  2012.  What controls connectivity? An empirical, multi-species approach Integrative and Comparative Biology. 52:511-524.   10.1093/icb/ics104   AbstractWebsite

The exchange of individuals among habitat patches (connectivity) has broad relevance for the conservation and management of marine metapopulations. Elemental fingerprinting-based research conducted over the past 12 years along the open coastline and bays of San Diego County in southern California evaluated connectivity patterns for seven species: one native and two invasive mussels, an oyster, a brachyuran crab, and two fishes. The studies spanned different years and seasons but overlapped considerably in space, allowing comparisons of dispersal patterns across species, and assessment of the relative importance of location, circulation, and intra-annual and inter-annual variability. We asked whether the species exhibited commonalities in directional transport, transport distances, sources and sinks, self-recruitment, and bay-ocean exchange. Linked connectivity-demographic analyses conducted for two species of mytilid mussels and two fishes allowed evaluation of the contributions of realized connectivity to metapopulation dynamics relative to other life-history attributes. Common trends across species include average along-shore dispersal distances of 15–35 km and seasonal changes in direction of dispersal that mirrored patterns of along-shore circulation. We observed greater isolation of back-bay populations, significant exchange from front bay to ocean, and high self-recruitment in locations on the northern, open coast, and in the southern bays. Connectivity was rarely the most influential driver of growth and persistence of metapopulations, but influenced the importance of other vital rates. Several locations served consistently as sources of larvae or as nurseries for multiple species, but there were few sites in common that were sinks. For the mussels, reproductive timing guided directional transport. These results imply that local management (e.g., habitat protection, opening of the mouths of lagoons, location of aquaculture farms) may be effective along this coastline. Regional, multi-species assessments of exchange of larvae should move us closer to ecosystem-based management.