- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Estuaries and Coasts
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Abstract Background Exploring hybrid zone dynamics at different spatial scales allows for better understanding of local factors that influence hybrid zone structure. In this study, we tested hypotheses about drivers of introgression at two spatial scales within the Saltmarsh Sparrow ( Ammospiza caudacuta ) and Nelson’s Sparrow ( A. nelsoni ) hybrid zone. Specifically, we evaluated the influence of neutral demographic processes (relative species abundance), natural selection (exogenous environmental factors and genetic incompatibilities), and sexual selection (assortative mating) in this mosaic hybrid zone. By intensively sampling adults (n = 218) and chicks (n = 326) at two geographically proximate locations in the center of the hybrid zone, we determined patterns of introgression on a fine scale across sites of differing habitat. We made broadscale comparisons of patterns from the center with those of prior studies in the southern edge of the hybrid zone. Results A panel of fixed SNPs (135) identified from ddRAD sequencing was used to calculate a hybrid index and determine genotypic composition/admixture level of the populations. Another panel of polymorphic SNPs (589) was used to assign paternity and reconstruct mating pairs to test for sexual selection. On a broad-scale, patterns of introgression were not explained by random mating within marshes. We found high rates of back-crossing and similarly low rates of recent-generation (F1/F2) hybrids in the center and south of the zone. Offspring genotypic proportions did not meet those expected from random mating within the parental genotypic distribution. Additionally, we observed half as many F1/F2 hybrid female adults than nestlings, while respective male groups showed no difference, in support of Haldane’s Rule. The observed proportion of interspecific mating was lower than expected when accounting for mate availability, indicating assortative mating was limiting widespread hybridization. On a fine spatial scale, we found variation in the relative influence of neutral and selective forces between inland and coastal habitats, with the smaller, inland marsh influenced primarily by neutral demographic processes, and the expansive, coastal marsh experiencing higher selective pressures in the form of natural (exogenous and endogenous) and sexual selection. Conclusions Multiple drivers of introgression, including neutral and selective pressures (exogenous, endogenous, and sexual selection), are structuring this hybrid zone, and their relative influence is site and context-dependent.more » « less
Abstract Blue crabs ( Callinectes sapidus ) are highly mobile, ecologically-important mesopredators that support multimillion-dollar fisheries along the western Atlantic Ocean. Understanding how blue crabs respond to coastal landscape change is integral to conservation and management, but such insights have been limited to a narrow range of habitats and spatial scales. We examined how local-scale to landscape-scale habitat characteristics and bathymetric features (channels and oceanic inlets) affect the relative abundance (catch per unit effort, CPUE) of adult blue crabs across a > 33 km 2 seagrass landscape in coastal Virginia, USA. We found that crab CPUE was 1.7 × higher in sparse (versus dense) seagrass, 2.4 × higher at sites farther from (versus nearer to) salt marshes, and unaffected by proximity to oyster reefs. The probability that a trapped crab was female was 5.1 × higher in sparse seagrass and 8 × higher near deep channels. The probability of a female crab being gravid was 2.8 × higher near seagrass meadow edges and 3.3 × higher near deep channels. Moreover, the likelihood of a gravid female having mature eggs was 16 × greater in sparse seagrass and 32 × greater near oceanic inlets. Overall, we discovered that adult blue crab CPUE is influenced by seagrass, salt marsh, and bathymetric features on scales from meters to kilometers, and that habitat associations depend on sex and reproductive stage. Hence, accelerating changes to coastal geomorphology and vegetation will likely alter the abundance and distribution of adult blue crabs, challenging marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based fisheries management.more » « less
null (Ed.)Abstract Climate change is altering naturally fluctuating environmental conditions in coastal and estuarine ecosystems across the globe. Departures from long-term averages and ranges of environmental variables are increasingly being observed as directional changes [e.g., rising sea levels, sea surface temperatures (SST)] and less predictable periodic cycles (e.g., Atlantic or Pacific decadal oscillations) and extremes (e.g., coastal flooding, marine heatwaves). Quantifying the short- and long-term impacts of climate change on tidal marsh seascape structure and function for nekton is a critical step toward fisheries conservation and management. The multiple stressor framework provides a promising approach for advancing integrative, cross-disciplinary research on tidal marshes and food web dynamics. It can be used to quantify climate change effects on and interactions between coastal oceans (e.g., SST, ocean currents, waves) and watersheds (e.g., precipitation, river flows), tidal marsh geomorphology (e.g., vegetation structure, elevation capital, sedimentation), and estuarine and coastal nekton (e.g., species distributions, life history adaptations, predator-prey dynamics). However, disentangling the cumulative impacts of multiple interacting stressors on tidal marshes, whether the effects are additive, synergistic, or antagonistic, and the time scales at which they occur, poses a significant research challenge. This perspective highlights the key physical and ecological processes affecting tidal marshes, with an emphasis on the trophic linkages between marsh production and estuarine and coastal nekton, recommended for consideration in future climate change studies. Such studies are urgently needed to understand climate change effects on tidal marshes now and into the future.more » « less
Coastal communities increasingly invest in natural and nature‐based features (e.g., living shorelines) as a strategy to protect shorelines and enhance coastal resilience. Tidal marshes are a common component of these strategies because of their capacity to reduce wave energy and storm surge impacts. Performance metrics of restoration success for living shorelines tend to focus on how the physical structure of the created marsh enhances shoreline protection via proper elevation and marsh plant presence. These metrics do not fully evaluate the level of marsh ecosystem development. In particular, the presence of key marsh bivalve species can indicate the capability of the marsh to provide non‐protective services of value, such as water quality improvement and habitat provision. We observed an unexpected low to no abundance of the filter‐feeding ribbed mussel,
Geukensia demissa, in living shoreline marshes throughout Chesapeake Bay. In salt marsh ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast of the United States, ribbed mussels improve water quality, enhance nutrient removal, stabilize the marsh, and facilitate long‐term sustainability of the habitat. Through comparative field surveys and experiments within a chronosequence of 13 living shorelines spanning 2–16 years since construction, we examined three factors we hypothesized may influence recruitment of ribbed mussels to living shoreline marshes: (1) larval access to suitable marsh habitat, (2) sediment quality of low marsh (i.e., potential mussel habitat), and (3) availability of high‐quality refuge habitat. Our findings suggest that at most sites larval mussels are able to access and settle on living shoreline created marshes behind rock sill structures, but that most recruits are likely not surviving. Sediment organic matter (OM) and plant density were correlated with mussel abundance, and sediment OM increased with marsh age, suggesting that living shoreline design (e.g., sand fill, planting grids) and lags in ecosystem development (sediment properties) are reducing the survival of the young recruits. We offer potential modifications to living shoreline design and implementation practices that may facilitate self‐sustaining ribbed mussel populations in these restored habitats.
Over heterogeneous landscapes, organisms and energy move across ecological boundaries and this can have profound effects on overall ecosystem functioning. Both abiotic and biotic factors along habitat boundaries may facilitate or impede key species interactions that drive these energy flows—especially along the land–sea interface. We synthesized the literature detailing estuarine fish diets and habitat characteristics of salt marshes from U.S. East and Gulf coasts to determine patterns and drivers of cross‐boundary trophic transfers at the land–sea interface. Notably, marsh‐platform species (i.e., killifishes, fiddler crabs) appear virtually absent in the diets of transient estuarine fishes in the Gulf of Mexico, while along the South Atlantic and Mid‐Atlantic Bights, marsh‐platform species appear regularly in the diets of many transient estuarine fishes. Tidal amplitude varied across these three biogeographic regions and likely regulates the availability of marsh‐platform species to transient estuarine fishes via both access to the marsh surface for marine predators and emergence of marsh‐resident prey into the adjacent estuary (i.e., higher tidal amplitude increases predator–prey encounter rates). Surprisingly, marsh shoot density was positively correlated with the presence of marsh‐platform species in the diet, but this pattern appears to be mediated by increased tidal amplitude, suggesting the mode and periodicity of abiotic cycles drive diet structure of transient estuarine fishes more so than local habitat structural complexity. Subsequently, these processes likely influence the degree to which “trophic relay” moves energy from the marsh toward the open estuary. Understanding the dynamics that determine energy flows, spatial subsidies, and ultimately, ecosystem‐level productivity, is essential for implementation of holistic ecosystem‐based approaches to conserve and manage complex landscape mosaics.