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Creators/Authors contains: "Dutton, Christopher L."

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  1. Abstract

    All animals carry specialized microbiomes, and their gut microbiota are continuously released into the environment through excretion of waste. Here we propose themeta-gutas a novel conceptual framework that addresses the ability of the gut microbiome released from an animal to function outside the host and alter biogeochemical processes mediated by microbes. We demonstrate this dynamic in the hippopotamus (hippo) and the pools they inhabit. We used natural field gradients and experimental approaches to examine fecal and pool water microbial communities and aquatic biogeochemistry across a range of hippo inputs. Sequencing using 16S RNA methods revealed community coalescence between hippo gut microbiomes and the active microbial communities in hippo pools that received high inputs of hippo feces. The shared microbiome between the hippo gut and the waters into which they excrete constitutes ameta-gutsystem that could influence the biogeochemistry of recipient ecosystems and provide a reservoir of gut microbiomes that could influence other hosts. We propose thatmeta-gutdynamics may also occur where other animal species congregate in high densities, particularly in aquatic environments.

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  3. Abstract

    Animals can impact freshwater ecosystem structure and function in ways that persist well beyond the animal’s active presence. These legacy effects can last for months, even decades, and often increase spatial and temporal heterogeneity within a system. Herein, we review examples of structural, biogeochemical, and trophic legacies from animals in stream and river ecosystems with a focus on large vertebrates. We examine how the decline or disappearance of many native animal populations has led to the loss of their legacy effects. We also demonstrate how anthropogenically altered animal populations, such as livestock and invasive species, provide new legacy effects that may partially replace lost animal legacies. However, these new effects often have important functional differences, including stronger, more widespread and homogenizing effects. Understanding the influence of animal legacy effects is particularly important as native animal populations continue to decline and disappear from many ecosystems, because they illustrate the long-term and often unanticipated consequences of biodiversity loss. We encourage the conservation and restoration of native species to ensure that both animal populations and their legacy effects continue to support the structure and function of river ecosystems.

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  4. In many regions of the world, populations of large wildlife have been displaced by livestock, and this may change the functioning of aquatic ecosystems owing to significant differences in the quantity and quality of their dung. We developed a model for estimating loading rates of organic matter (dung) by cattle for comparison with estimated rates for hippopotamus in the Mara River, Kenya. We then conducted a replicated mesocosm experiment to measure ecosystem effects of nutrient and carbon inputs associated with dung from livestock (cattle) versus large wildlife (hippopotamus). Our loading model shows that per capita dung input by cattle is lower than for hippos, but total dung inputs by cattle constitute a significant portion of loading from large herbivores owing to the large numbers of cattle on the landscape. Cattle dung transfers higher amounts of limiting nutrients, major ions and dissolved organic carbon to aquatic ecosystems relative to hippo dung, and gross primary production and microbial biomass were higher in cattle dung treatments than in hippo dung treatments. Our results demonstrate that different forms of animal dung may influence aquatic ecosystems in fundamentally different ways when introduced into aquatic ecosystems as a terrestrially derived resource subsidy. 
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  5. To assess the distribution, frequency, and global extent of riverine hypoxia, we compiled 118 million paired dissolved oxygen (DO) and water temperature measurements from 125,158 unique locations in rivers in 93 countries and territories across the globe. The dataset also includes site characteristics derived from StreamCat, the National Hydrography and HydroAtlas datasets and proximal land cover derived from MODIS-based IGBP land cover types compiled using Google Earth Engine (GEE). 
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  6. Abstract

    Hypoxia in coastal waters and lakes is widely recognized as a detrimental environmental issue, yet we lack a comparable understanding of hypoxia in rivers. We investigated controls on hypoxia using 118 million paired observations of dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration and water temperature in over 125,000 locations in rivers from 93 countries. We found hypoxia (DO < 2 mg L−1) in 12.6% of all river sites across 53 countries, but no consistent trend in prevalence since 1950. High‐frequency data reveal a 3‐h median duration of hypoxic events which are most likely to initiate at night. River attributes were better predictors of riverine hypoxia occurrence than watershed land cover, topography, and climate characteristics. Hypoxia was more likely to occur in warmer, smaller, and lower‐gradient rivers, particularly those draining urban or wetland land cover. Our findings suggest that riverine hypoxia and the resulting impacts on ecosystems may be more pervasive than previously assumed.

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  7. While the importance of grasslands in terrestrial silicon (Si) cycling and fluxes to rivers is established, the influence of large grazers has not been considered. Here, we show that hippopotamuses are key actors in the savannah biogeochemical Si cycle. Through a detailed analysis of Si concentrations and stable isotope compositions in multiple ecosystem compartments of a savannah-river continuum, we constrain the processes influencing the Si flux. Hippos transport 0.4 metric tons of Si day −1 by foraging grass on land and directly egesting in the water. As such, they bypass complex retention processes in secondary soil Si pools. By balancing internal processes of dissolution and precipitation in the river sediment, we calculate that hippos affect up to 76% of the total Si flux. This can have a large impact on downstream lake ecosystems, where Si availability directly affects primary production in the diatom-dominated phytoplankton communities. 
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