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  1. Abstract The ocean's twilight zone (TZ) is a vast, globe-spanning region of the ocean. Home to myriad fishes and invertebrates, mid-water fishes alone may constitute 10 times more biomass than all current ocean wild-caught fisheries combined. Life in the TZ supports ocean food webs and plays a critical role in carbon capture and sequestration. Yet the ecological roles that mesopelagic animals play in the ocean remain enigmatic. This knowledge gap has stymied efforts to determine the effects that extraction of mesopelagic biomass by industrial fisheries, or alterations due to climate shifts, may have on ecosystem services provided by the open ocean. We propose to develop a scalable, distributed observation network to provide sustained interrogation of the TZ in the northwest Atlantic. The network will leverage a “tool-chest” of emerging and enabling technologies including autonomous, unmanned surface and underwater vehicles and swarms of low-cost “smart” floats. Connectivity among in-water assets will allow rapid assimilation of data streams to inform adaptive sampling efforts. The TZ observation network will demonstrate a bold new step towards the goal of continuously observing vast regions of the deep ocean, significantly improving TZ biomass estimates and understanding of the TZ's role in supporting ocean food webs and sequestering carbon. 
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  2. Abstract

    Ocean warming is causing declines of coral reefs globally, raising critical questions about the potential for corals to adapt. In the central equatorial Pacific, reefs persisting through recurrent El Niño heatwaves hold important clues. Using an 18‐year record of coral cover spanning three major bleaching events, we show that the impact of thermal stress on coral mortality within the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) has lessened over time. Disproportionate survival of extreme thermal stress during the 2009–2010 and 2015–2016 heatwaves, relative to that in 2002–2003, suggests that selective mortality through successive heatwaves may help shape coral community responses to future warming. Identifying and facilitating the conditions under which coral survival and recovery can keep pace with rates of warming are essential first steps toward successful stewardship of coral reefs under 21st century climate change.

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  3. Abstract

    Compound‐specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA) of amino acids (AA) has rapidly become a powerful tool in studies of food web architecture, resource use, and biogeochemical cycling. However, applications to avian ecology have been limited because no controlled studies have examined the patterns inAAisotope fractionation in birds. We conducted a controlledCSIAfeeding experiment on an avian species, the gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), to examine patterns in individualAAcarbon and nitrogen stable isotope fractionation between diet (D) and consumer (C) (Δ13CC‐Dand Δ15NC‐D, respectively). We found that essentialAAδ13C values and sourceAAδ15N values in feathers showed minimal trophic fractionation between diet and consumer, providing independent but complimentary archival proxies for primary producers and nitrogen sources respectively, at the base of food webs supporting penguins. Variations in nonessentialAAΔ13CC‐Dvalues reflected differences in macromolecule sources used for biosynthesis (e.g., protein vs. lipids) and provided a metric to assess resource utilization. The avian‐specific nitrogen trophic discrimination factor (TDFGlu‐Phe= 3.5 ± 0.4‰) that we calculated from the difference in trophic fractionation (Δ15NC‐D) of glutamic acid and phenylalanine was significantly lower than the conventional literature value of 7.6‰. Trophic positions of five species of wild penguins calculated using a multi‐TDFGlu‐Pheequation with the avian‐specificTDFGlu‐Phevalue from our experiment provided estimates that were more ecologically realistic than estimates using a singleTDFGlu‐Pheof 7.6‰ from the previous literature. Our results provide a quantitative, mechanistic framework for the use ofCSIAin nonlethal, archival feathers to study the movement and foraging ecology of avian consumers.

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  4. Abstract

    The relative contributions of environmental, maternal and additive genetic factors to the Lifetime reproductive success (LRS) determine whether species can adapt to rapid environmental change. Yet to date, studies quantifying LRS across multiple generations in marine species in the wild are non‐existent. Here we used 10‐year pedigrees resolved for a wild orange clownfish population from Kimbe Island (PNG) and a quantitative genetic linear mixed model approach to quantify the additive genetic, maternal and environmental contributions to variation in LRS for the self‐recruiting portion of the population. We found that the habitat of the breeder, including the anemone species and geographic location, made the greatest contribution to LRS. There were low to negligible contributions of genetic and maternal factors equating with low heritability and evolvability. Our findings imply that our population will be susceptible to short‐term, small‐scale changes in habitat structure and may have limited capacity to adapt to these changes.

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