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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Mangrove trees are invading saltmarshes at subtropical ecotones globally, but the consequences of this vegetation shift for ecosystem sustainability remain unknown. Using the Coastal Wetland Equilibrium Model (CWEM) to simulate vegetation survival and sediment accretion, we predict that black mangroves,Avicennia germinans, can build soil elevation by 8 mm yr−1, four times greater than saltmarshes at the same site, a finding that is broadly consistent with field measurements of elevation change. Mangroves build elevation more rapidly than saltmarshes by producing much greater live and labile belowground biomass, but when mangroves drown, they abruptly lose elevation due to the large volume of quickly decomposing necromass following flood‐induced mortality. Under certain conditions, young mangroves can accumulate root mass faster than mature trees and, therefore, gain elevation more rapidly, but neither saltmarshes nor mangroves of any age survived a centenary sea‐level increase of 100 cm. The acceleration of sea‐level rise that coastal marshes are encountering raises the question of how coastal wetlands should be optimally managed and these results provide managers with predictive information on wetland building capacity of mangroves versus marshes.

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  4. Abstract

    Top‐down effects of predators and bottom‐up effects of resources are important drivers of community structure and function in a wide array of ecosystems. Fertilization experiments impose variation in resource availability that can mediate the strength of predator impacts, but the prevalence of such interactions across natural productivity gradients is less clear. We studied the joint impacts of top‐down and bottom‐up factors in a tropical mangrove forest system, leveraging fine‐grained patchiness in resource availability and primary productivity on coastal cays of Belize. We excluded birds from canopies of red mangrove (Rhizophoraceae:Rhizophora mangle) for 13 months in zones of phosphorus‐limited, stunted dwarf mangroves, and in adjacent zones of vigorous mangroves that receive detrital subsidies. Birds decreased total arthropod densities by 62%, herbivore densities more than fivefold, and reduced rates of leaf and bud herbivory by 45% and 52%, respectively. Despite similar arthropod densities across both zones of productivity, leaf and bud damage were 2.0 and 4.3 times greater in productive stands. Detrital subsidies strongly impacted a suite of plant traits in productive stands, potentially making leaves more nutritious and vulnerable to damage. Despite consistently strong impacts on herbivory, we did not detect top‐down forcing that impacted mangrove growth, which was similar with and without birds. Our results indicated that both top‐down and bottom‐up forces drive arthropod community dynamics, but attenuation at the plant‐herbivore interface weakens top‐down control by avian insectivores.

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  5. Abstract Climate change is altering species’ range limits and transforming ecosystems. For example, warming temperatures are leading to the range expansion of tropical, cold-sensitive species at the expense of their cold-tolerant counterparts. In some temperate and subtropical coastal wetlands, warming winters are enabling mangrove forest encroachment into salt marsh, which is a major regime shift that has significant ecological and societal ramifications. Here, we synthesized existing data and expert knowledge to assess the distribution of mangroves near rapidly changing range limits in the southeastern USA. We used expert elicitation to identify data limitations and highlight knowledge gaps for advancing understanding of past, current, and future range dynamics. Mangroves near poleward range limits are often shorter, wider, and more shrublike compared to their tropical counterparts that grow as tall forests in freeze-free, resource-rich environments. The northern range limits of mangroves in the southeastern USA are particularly dynamic and climate sensitive due to abundance of suitable coastal wetland habitat and the exposure of mangroves to winter temperature extremes that are much colder than comparable range limits on other continents. Thus, there is need for methodological refinements and improved spatiotemporal data regarding changes in mangrove structure and abundance near northern range limits in the southeastern USA. Advancing understanding of rapidly changing range limits is critical for foundation plant species such as mangroves, as it provides a basis for anticipating and preparing for the cascading effects of climate-induced species redistribution on ecosystems and the human communities that depend on their ecosystem services. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Ball, Marilyn (Ed.)
    Abstract Temperature and salinity are important regulators of mangrove range limits and productivity, but the physiological responses of mangroves to the interactive effects of temperature and salinity remain uncertain. We tested the hypothesis that salinity alters photosynthetic responses to seasonal changes in temperature and vapor pressure deficit (D), as well as thermal acclimation _of leaf respiration in black mangrove (Avicennia germinans). To test this hypothesis, we grew seedlings of A. germinans in an outdoor experiment for ~ 12 months under four treatments spanning 0 to 55 ppt porewater salinity. We repeatedly measured seedling growth and in situ rates of leaf net photosynthesis (Asat) and stomatal conductance to water vapor (gs) at prevailing leaf temperatures, along with estimated rates of Rubisco carboxylation (Vcmax) and electron transport for RuBP regeneration (Jmax), and measured rates of leaf respiration at 25 °C (Rarea25). We developed empirical models describing the seasonal response of leaf gas exchange and photosynthetic capacity to leaf temperature and D, and the response of Rarea25 to changes in mean daily air temperature. We tested the effect of salinity on model parameters. Over time, salinity had weak or inconsistent effects on Asat, gs and Rarea25. Salinity also had little effect on the biochemical parameters of photosynthesis (Vcmax, Jmax) and individual measurements of Asat, gs, Vcmax and Jmax showed a similar response to seasonal changes in temperature and D across all salinity treatments. Individual measurements of Rarea25 showed a similar inverse relationship with mean daily air temperature across all salinity treatments. We conclude that photosynthetic responses to seasonal changes in temperature and D, as well as seasonal temperature acclimation of leaf R, are largely consistent across a range of salinities in A. germinans. These results might simplify predictions of photosynthetic and respiratory responses to temperature in young mangroves. 
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  8. Abstract

    The central‐marginal hypothesis (CMH) posits that range margins exhibit less genetic diversity and greater inter‐population genetic differentiation compared to range cores. CMH predictions are based on long‐held “abundant‐centre” assumptions of a decline in ecological conditions and abundances towards range margins. Although much empirical research has confirmed CMH, exceptions remain almost as common. We contend that mangroves provide a model system to test CMH that alleviates common confounding factors and may help clarify this lack of consensus. Here, we document changes in black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) population genetics with 12 nuclear microsatellite loci along three replicate coastlines in the United States (only two of three conform to underlying “abundant‐centre” assumptions). We then test an implicit prediction of CMH (reduced genetic diversity may constrain adaptation at range margins) by measuring functional traits of leaves associated with cold tolerance, the climatic factor that controls these mangrove distributional limits. CMH predictions were confirmed only along the coastlines that conform to “abundant‐centre” assumptions and, in contrast to theory, range marginA. germinansexhibited functional traits consistent with greater cold tolerance compared to range cores. These findings support previous accounts that CMH may not be a general rule across species and that reduced neutral genetic diversity at range margins may not be a constraint to shifts in functional trait variation along climatic gradients.

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