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  1. Abstract

    A network of marine reserves can enhance yield in depleted fisheries by protecting populations, particularly large, old spawners that supply larvae for interspersed fishing grounds. The ability of marine reserves to enhance sustainable fisheries is much less evident. We report empirical evidence of a marine reserve network improving yield regionally for a sustainable spiny lobster fishery, apparently through the spillover of adult lobsters and behavioral adaptation by the fishing fleet. Results of a Before-After, Control-Impact analysis found catch, effort, and Catch-Per-Unit Effort increased after the establishment of marine reserves in the northern region of the fishery where fishers responded by fishing intensively at reserve borders, but declined in the southern region where they vacated once productive fishing grounds. The adaptation of the northern region of the fishery may have been aided by a history of collaboration between fishers, scientists, and managers, highlighting the value of collaborative research and education programs for preparing fisheries to operate productively within a seascape that includes a large marine reserve network.

     
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  2. Abstract

    The paradigm of past climate-driven range shifts structuring the distribution of marine intraspecific biodiversity lacks replication in biological models exposed to comparable limiting conditions in independent regions. This may lead to confounding effects unlinked to climate drivers. We aim to fill in this gap by asking whether the global distribution of intraspecific biodiversity of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is explained by past climate changes occurring across the two hemispheres. We compared the species’ population genetic diversity and structure inferred with microsatellite markers, with range shifts and long-term refugial regions predicted with species distribution modelling (SDM) from the last glacial maximum (LGM) to the present. The broad antitropical distribution ofMacrocystis pyriferais composed by six significantly differentiated genetic groups, for which current genetic diversity levels match the expectations of past climate changes. Range shifts from the LGM to the present structured low latitude refugial regions where genetic relics with higher and unique diversity were found (particularly in the Channel Islands of California and in Peru), while post-glacial expansions following ~ 40% range contraction explained extensive regions with homogenous reduced diversity. The estimated effect of past climate-driven range shifts was comparable between hemispheres, largely demonstrating that the distribution of intraspecific marine biodiversity can be structured by comparable evolutionary forces across the global ocean. Additionally, the differentiation and endemicity of regional genetic groups, confers high conservation value to these localized intraspecific biodiversity hotspots of giant kelp forests.

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

    Ocean warming has both direct physiological and indirect ecological consequences for marine organisms. Sessile animals may be particularly vulnerable to anomalous warming given constraints in food acquisition and reproduction imposed by sessility. In temperate reef ecosystems, sessile suspension feeding invertebrates provide food for an array of mobile species and act as a critical trophic link between the plankton and the benthos. Using 14 years of seasonal benthic community data across five coastal reefs, we evaluated how communities of sessile invertebrates in southern California kelp forests responded to the “Blob”, a period of anomalously high temperatures and low phytoplankton production. We show that this event had prolonged consequences for kelp forest ecosystems. Changes to community structure, including species invasions, have persisted six years post-Blob, suggesting that a climate-driven shift in California kelp forests is underway.

     
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  4. abstract Coastal ecosystems play a disproportionately large role in society, and climate change is altering their ecological structure and function, as well as their highly valued goods and services. In the present article, we review the results from decade-scale research on coastal ecosystems shaped by foundation species (e.g., coral reefs, kelp forests, coastal marshes, seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, barrier islands) to show how climate change is altering their ecological attributes and services. We demonstrate the value of site-based, long-term studies for quantifying the resilience of coastal systems to climate forcing, identifying thresholds that cause shifts in ecological state, and investigating the capacity of coastal ecosystems to adapt to climate change and the biological mechanisms that underlie it. We draw extensively from research conducted at coastal ecosystems studied by the US Long Term Ecological Research Network, where long-term, spatially extensive observational data are coupled with shorter-term mechanistic studies to understand the ecological consequences of climate change. 
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  5. Abstract Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designed to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services. Some MPAs are also established to benefit fisheries through increased egg and larval production, or the spillover of mobile juveniles and adults. Whether spillover influences fishery landings depend on the population status and movement patterns of target species both inside and outside of MPAs, as well as the status of the fishery and behavior of the fleet. We tested whether an increase in the lobster population inside two newly established MPAs influenced local catch, fishing effort, and catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) within the sustainable California spiny lobster fishery. We found greater build-up of lobsters within MPAs relative to unprotected areas, and greater increases in fishing effort and total lobster catch, but not CPUE, in fishing zones containing MPAs vs. those without MPAs. Our results show that a 35% reduction in fishing area resulting from MPA designation was compensated for by a 225% increase in total catch after 6-years, thus indicating at a local scale that the trade-off of fishing ground for no-fishing zones benefitted the fishery. 
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  6. Disturbances often disproportionately impact different vegetation layers in forests and other vertically stratified ecosystems, shaping community structure and ecosystem function. However, disturbance-driven changes may be mediated by environmental conditions that affect habitat quality and species interactions. In a decade-long field experiment, we tested how kelp forest net primary productivity (NPP) responds to repeated canopy loss along a gradient in grazing and substrate suitability. We discovered that habitat quality can mediate the effects of intensified disturbance on canopy and understory NPP. Experimental annual and quarterly disturbances suppressed total macroalgal NPP, but effects were strongest in high- quality habitats that supported dense kelp canopies that were removed by disturbance. Understory macroalgae partly compensated for canopy NPP losses and this effect magnified with increasing habitat quality. Disturbance-driven increases in understory NPP were still rising after 5-10 years of disturbance, demonstrating the value of long-term experimentation for understanding ecosystem responses to changing disturbance regimes. 
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  7. Invasive species are a growing threat to conservation in marine ecosystems, yet we lack a predictive understanding of ecological factors that influence the invasiveness of exotic marine species. We used surveys and manipulative experiments to investigate how an exotic seaweed, Sargassum horneri, interacts with native macroalgae and herbivores off the coast of California. We asked whether the invasion (i.e., the process by which an exotic species exhibits rapid population growth and spread in the novel environment) of S. horneri is influenced by three mechanisms known to affect the invasion of exotic plants on land: competition, niche complementarity and herbivory. We found that the removal of S. horneri over 3.5 years from experimental plots had little effect on the biomass or taxonomic richness of the native algal community. Differences between removal treatments were apparent only in spring at the end of the experiment when S. horneri biomass was substantially higher than in previous sampling periods. Surveys across a depth range of 0–30 m revealed inverse patterns in the biomass of S. horneri and native subcanopy-forming macroalgae, with S. horneri peaking at intermediate depths (5–20 m) while the aggregated biomass of native species was greatest at shallow (<5 m) and deeper (>20 m) depths. The biomass of S. horneri and native algae also displayed different seasonal trends, and removal of S. horneri from experimental plots indicated the seasonality of native algae was largely unaffected by fluctuations in S. horneri. Results from grazing assays and surveys showed that native herbivores favor native kelp over Sargassum as a food source, suggesting that reduced palatability may help promote the invasion of S. horneri. The complementary life histories of S. horneri and native algae suggest that competition between them is generally weak, and that niche complementarity and resistance to grazing are more important in promoting the invasion success of S. horneri. 
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