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  1. Coral reefs are shifting from coral to algal-dominated ecosystems worldwide. Recently, Turbinaria ornata, a marine alga native to coral reefs of the South Pacific, has spread in both range and habitat usage. Given dense stands of T. ornata can function as an alternative stable state on coral reefs, it is imperative to understand the factors that underlie its success. We tested the hypothesis that T. ornata demonstrates ontogenetic variation in allocation to anti-herbivore defense, specifically that blade toughness varied nonlinearly with thallus size. We quantified the relationship between T. ornata blade toughness and thallus size for individual thalli within algal stands (N=345) on 7 fringing reefs along the north shore of Moorea, French Polynesia. We found that blade toughness was greatest at intermediate sizes that typically form canopies, with overall reduced toughness in both smaller individuals that refuge within the understory and older reproductive individuals that ultimately detach and form floating rafts. We posit this variation in blade toughness reduces herbivory on the thalli that are most exposed to herbivores and may facilitate reproduction in dispersing stages, both of which may aid the proliferation of T. ornata. 
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  5. Abstract

    Rainfall mobilizes and transports anthropogenic sources of sediments and nutrients from terrestrial to coastal marine ecosystems, and episodic but extreme rainfall may drive high fluxes to marine communities. Between January 13thand January 22nd, 2017, the South Pacific Island of Moorea, French Polynesia experienced an extreme rainfall event. ~57 cm of rain was delivered over a 10-day storm. We quantified pulsed sediments and nutrients transported to nearshore reefs. We determined the spatial and temporal extent of the sediment pulse with estimates of water transparency. We quantified pulsed nutrients at multiple spatial and temporal scales. To determine if terrestrial nutrients were incorporated into the benthic community, we collected macroalgae over 10 days following the storm and measured tissue nutrient concentrations and δN15. Pulsed sediments impacted water clarity for 6 days following the storm, with greatest impacts closest to the river mouth. Nitrite +nitrate concentrations were >100 times the average while phosphate was >25 times average. Macroalgal tissue nutrients were elevated, and δN15implicates sewage as the source, demonstrating transported nutrients were transferred to producer communities. Future climate change predictions suggest extreme rainfall will become more common in this system, necessitating research on these pulses and their ramifications on marine communities.

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  6. Abstract

    Sex can influence patterns of parasitism because males and females can differ in encounter with, and susceptibility to, parasites. We investigate an isopod parasite (Hemioniscus balani) that consumes ovarian fluid, blocking female function of its barnacle host, a simultaneous hermaphrodite. As a hermaphrodite, sex is fluid, and individuals may allocate energy differentially to male versus female reproduction. We predicted the relationship between barnacle size and female reproductive function influences the distribution of parasites within barnacle populations. We surveyed 12 populations spanning ~400 km of coastline of southern California and found intermediate-sized barnacles where most likely to be actively functioning as females. While it is unclear why larger individuals are less likely to be actively reproducing as females, we suggest this reduced likelihood is driven by increased investment in male reproductive effort at larger sizes. The female function-size relationship was mirrored by the relationship between size and parasitism. We suggest parasitism byHemioniscus balaniimposes a cost to female function, reinforcing the lack of investment in female function by the largest individuals. Within the subset of suitable (=female) hosts, infection probability increased with size. Hence, the distribution of female function, combined with selection for larger hosts, primarily dictated patterns of infection.

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  7. Abstract

    Multiple stressors acting simultaneously on ecological communities are the new normal state. Stressor number and strength will increase with rising anthropogenic activity, making it critical to understand both stressor effects and interactions. Stressor temporal regimes vary in intensity, frequency, and duration, ranging from press to pulse. While stressors with different temporal regimes likely have divergent effects, this remains mostly unexplored, though there is some evidence communities are more resistant to pulse than press stressors. Coral reefs are among the most impacted marine communities, and degradation from coral to algal dominance has been attributed to increases in both local and global stressors. Overfishing, nutrient pollution, and increased sedimentation are all local stressors that have been implicated in shift dynamics. Nutrients and sediments are anthropogenically derived stressors to reefs that can have press and pulse temporal regimes. We conducted a 6‐month fully crossed factorial field experiment on algal turf communities in Moorea, French Polynesia, manipulating access by herbivores, enrichment regime, and sedimentation regime and tracked changes in benthic community composition. We found complex interactions among stressors and stressor regimes drove a series of transitions from healthy, short algal turf communities to degraded, long algal turfs, and ultimately to macroalgal‐dominated communities. While herbivory controlled final community composition after 6 months, 2‐ and 3‐way interactions among nutrient and sediment temporal stressor regimes over time drove transition dynamics, and matching of stressor temporal regimes accelerated shifts. Some stressors cryptically eroded the resilience of the community, which was only evident when the strong ecological processes that masked these effects were disrupted. Our research highlights the need to consider temporal stressor regime as well as stressor interactions, particularly in light of predicted increases in both local and global stressors and alterations to stressor temporal regimes. Our understanding of the impacts of local stressor temporal regimes is in its infancy. Here, we provide a novel demonstration that the effects of stressor temporal regime varied and multiple stressors interacted to exhibit complex, emergent interaction effects, demonstrating the need to explicitly contrast stressor temporal regimes under multiple conditions to understand how communities will respond to future challenges.

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