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Title: Geomorphology and species interactions control facilitation cascade self-organization and strength
Facilitation cascades are chains of positive interactions that occur as frequently as trophic cascades, and are equally important drivers of ecosystem function where they involve the overlap of primary and secondary, or dependent, habitat-forming foundation species [cite]. Although it is well-recognized that the size and configuration of secondary foundation species’ patches are critical features modulating the ecological effects of facilitation cascades, the mechanisms governing their spatial distribution are often challenging to discern given that they operate across multiple spatial and temporal scales [cite]. We therefore combined regional surveys of southeastern US salt marsh geomorphology and invertebrate communities with a predator exclusion experiment to elucidate the drivers, both geomorphic and biotic, controlling the establishment, persistence, and ecosystem functioning impacts of a regionally-abundant facilitation cascade involving habitat-forming marsh cordgrass and aggregations of ribbed mussels. We discovered a hierarchy of physical and biological factors predictably controlling the strength and self-organization of this facilitation cascade across creekshed, landscape, and patch scales. These results significantly enhance our capacity to spatially predict coastal ecosystem function across scales based on easily identifiable metrics of geomorphology that are mechanistically linked to ecological processes [cite]. Replication of this approach across vegetated coastal ecosystems has the potential to support management more » efforts by elucidating the multi-scale linkages between geomorphology and ecology that, in turn, define spatially-explicit patterns in community assembly and ecosystem functioning. « less
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1652628
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10134931
ISSN:
0960-9822
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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