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  1. Abstract

    In aquatic systems, refuge habitats increase resistance to drying events and maintain populations in disturbed environments. However, reduced water availability and altered flow regimes threaten the function of these habitats. We conducted a capture–mark–recapture study, integrating angler citizen science. Our objectives were to quantify variation in survival of Florida Largemouth BassMicropterus salmoides floridanusin a coastal refuge habitat across seasonal hydrological periods and over 4 years of varying drying severity and to determine the contribution of angler sampling to improving capture probabilities. Apparent survival of Florida Largemouth Bass in the coastal Everglades was highest in wet and drying periods and lowest in dry and reflooding periods. Interannual survival was closely tied to the length of upstream marsh drying, with the lowest observed survival (0.21) during a drought year. The inclusion of angler sampling improved recapture probabilities, suggesting that angler data can supplement standardized electrofishing sampling. Findings show that during short drying events Florida Largemouth Bass survival can be relatively high, with implications for Everglades restoration. Understanding the ability of refuge habitats to buffer populations from drying disturbance is a key component for conservation and restoration, particularly under climate change scenarios.

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  2. Abstract

    Coastal ecosystems are exposed to saltwater intrusion but differential effects on biogeochemical cycling are uncertain. We tested how elevated salinity and phosphorus (P) individually and interactively affect microbial activities and biogeochemical cycling in freshwater and brackish wetland soils. In experimental mesocosms, we added crossed gradients of elevated concentrations of soluble reactive P (SRP) (0, 20, 40, 60, 80 μg/L) and salinity (0, 4, 7, 12, 16 ppt) to freshwater and brackish peat soils (10, 14, 17, 22, 26 ppt) for 35 d. We quantified changes in water chemistry [dissolved organic carbon (DOC), ammonium (), nitrate + nitrite (N + N), SRP concentrations], soil microbial extracellular enzyme activities, respiration rates, microbial biomass C, and soil chemistry (%C, %N, %P, C:N, C:P, N:P). DOC, , and SRP increased in freshwater but decreased in brackish mesocosms with elevated salinity. DOC similarly decreased in brackish mesocosms with added P, and N + N decreased with elevated salinity in both freshwater and brackish mesocosms. In freshwater soils, water column P uptake occurred only in the absence of elevated salinity and when P was above 40 µg/L. Freshwater microbial EEAs, respiration rates, and microbial biomass C were consistently higher compared to those from brackish soils, and soil phosphatase activities and microbial respiration rates in freshwater soils decreased with elevated salinity. Elevated salinity increased arylsulfatase activities and microbial biomass C in brackish soils, and elevated P increased microbial respiration rates in brackish soils. Freshwater soil %C, %N, %P decreased and C:P and N:P increased with elevated salinity. Elevated P increased %C and C:N in freshwater soils and increased %P but decreased C:P and N:P in brackish soils. Freshwater soils released more C and nutrients than brackish soils when exposed to elevated salinity, and both soils were less responsive to elevated P than expected. Freshwater soils became more nutrient‐depleted with elevated salinity, whereas brackish soils were unaffected by salinity but increased P uptake. Microbial activities in freshwater soils were inhibited by elevated salinity and unaffected by added P, but brackish soil microbial activities slightly increased with elevated salinity and P.

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  3. Abstract

    Coastal vegetated habitats like seagrass meadows can mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions by sequestering CO2as “blue carbon” (BC). Already, some coastal ecosystems are actively managed to enhance BC storage, with associated BC stocks included in national greenhouse gas inventories. However, the extent to which BC burial fluxes are enhanced or counteracted by other carbon fluxes, especially air‐water CO2flux (FCO2) remains poorly understood. In this study, we synthesized all available direct FCO2measurements over seagrass meadows made using atmospheric Eddy Covariance, across a globally representative range of ecotypes. Of the four sites with seasonal data coverage, two were net CO2sources, with average FCO2equivalent to 44%–115% of the global average BC burial rate. At the remaining sites, net CO2uptake was 101%–888% of average BC burial. A wavelet coherence analysis demonstrated that FCO2was most strongly related to physical factors like temperature, wind, and tides. In particular, tidal forcing was a key driver of global‐scale patterns in FCO2, likely due to a combination of lateral carbon exchange, bottom‐driven turbulence, and pore‐water pumping. Lastly, sea‐surface drag coefficients were always greater than the prediction for the open ocean, supporting a universal enhancement of gas‐transfer in shallow coastal waters. Our study points to the need for a more comprehensive approach to BC assessments, considering not only organic carbon storage, but also air‐water CO2exchange, and its complex biogeochemical and physical drivers.

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  4. Abstract

    Subtropical seagrass meadows play a major role in the coastal carbon cycle, but the nature of air–water CO2exchanges over these ecosystems is still poorly understood. The complex physical forcing of air–water exchange in coastal waters challenges our ability to quantify bulk exchanges of CO2and water (evaporation), emphasizing the need for direct measurements. We describe the first direct measurements of evaporation and CO2flux over a calcifying seagrass meadow near Bob Allen Keys, Florida. Over the 78‐d study, CO2emissions were 36% greater during the day than at night, and the site was a net CO2source to the atmosphere of 0.27 ± 0.17 μmol m−2s−1(x̅ ± standard deviation). A quarter (23%) of the diurnal variability in CO2flux was caused by the effect of changing water temperature on gas solubility. Furthermore, evaporation rates were ~ 10 times greater than precipitation, causing a 14% increase in salinity, a potential precursor of seagrass die‐offs. Evaporation rates were not correlated with solar radiation, but instead with air–water temperature gradient and wind shear. We also confirm the role of convective forcing on night‐time enhancement and day‐time suppression of gas transfer. At this site, temperature trends are regulated by solar heating, combined with shallow water depth and relatively consistent air temperature. Our findings indicate that evaporation and air–water CO2exchange over shallow, tropical, and subtropical seagrass ecosystems may be fundamentally different than in submerged vegetated environments elsewhere, in part due to the complex physical forcing of coastal air–sea gas transfer.

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  5. Abstract

    Ecosystems across the United States are changing in complex ways that are difficult to predict. Coordinated long‐term research and analysis are required to assess how these changes will affect a diverse array of ecosystem services. This paper is part of a series that is a product of a synthesis effort of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. This effort revealed that each LTER site had at least one compelling scientific case study about “what their site would look like” in 50 or 100 yr. As the site results were prepared, themes emerged, and the case studies were grouped into separate papers along five themes: state change, connectivity, resilience, time lags, and cascading effects and compiled into this special issue. This paper addresses the time lags theme with five examples from diverse biomes including tundra (Arctic), coastal upwelling (California Current Ecosystem), montane forests (Coweeta), and Everglades freshwater and coastal wetlands (Florida Coastal Everglades) LTER sites. Its objective is to demonstrate the importance of different types of time lags, in different kinds of ecosystems, as drivers of ecosystem structure and function and how these can effectively be addressed with long‐term studies. The concept that slow, interactive, compounded changes can have dramatic effects on ecosystem structure, function, services, and future scenarios is apparent in many systems, but they are difficult to quantify and predict. The case studies presented here illustrate the expanding scope of thinking about time lags within the LTER network and beyond. Specifically, they examine what variables are best indicators of lagged changes in arctic tundra, how progressive ocean warming can have profound effects on zooplankton and phytoplankton in waters off the California coast, how a series of species changes over many decades can affect Eastern deciduous forests, and how infrequent, extreme cold spells and storms can have enduring effects on fish populations and wetland vegetation along the Southeast coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The case studies highlight the need for a diverse set of LTER (and other research networks) sites to sort out the multiple components of time lag effects in ecosystems.

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  6. Abstract

    Rates of organic carbon (OC) burial in some coastal wetlands appear to be greater in recent years than they were in the past. Possible explanations include ongoing mineralization of older OC or the influence of an unaccounted‐for artifact of the methods used to measure burial rates. Alternatively, the trend may represent real acceleration in OC burial. We quantified OC burial rates of mangrove and coastal freshwater marshes in southwest Florida through a comparison of rates derived from210Pb,137Cs, and surface marker horizons. Age/depth profiles of lignin: OC were used to assess whether down‐core remineralization had depleted the OC pool relative to lignin, and lignin phenols were used to quantify the variability of lignin degradation. Over the past 120 years, OC burial rates at seven sites increased by factors ranging from 1.4 to 6.2. We propose that these increases represent net acceleration. Change in relative sea‐level rise is the most likely large‐scale driver of acceleration, and sediment deposition from large storms can contribute to periodic increases. Mangrove sites had higher OC and lignin burial rates than marsh sites, indicating inherent differences in OC burial factors between the two habitat types. The higher OC burial rates in mangrove soils mean that their encroachment into coastal freshwater marshes has the potential to increase burial rates in those locations even more than might be expected from the acceleration trends. Regionally, these findings suggest that burial represents a substantially growing proportion of the coastal wetland carbon budget.

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  7. Abstract

    Combining information from active and passive sampling of mobile animals is challenging because active‐sampling data are affected by limited detection of rare or sparse taxa, while passive‐sampling data reflect both density and movement. We propose that a model‐based analysis allows information to be combined between these methods to interpret variation in the relationship between active estimates of density and passive measurements of catch per unit effort to yield novel information on activity rates (distance/time). We illustrate where discrepancies arise between active and passive methods and demonstrate the model‐based approach with seasonal surveys of fish assemblages in the Florida Everglades, where data are derived from concurrent sampling with throw traps, an enclosure‐type sampler producing point estimates of density, and drift fences with unbaited minnow traps that measure catch per unit effort (CPUE). We compared incidence patterns generated by active and passive sampling, used hierarchical Bayesian modeling to quantify the detection ability of each method, characterized interspecific and seasonal variation in the relationship between density and passively measuredCPUE, and used a predator encounter‐rate model to convert variableCPUE–density relationships into ecological information on activity rates. Activity rate information was used to compare interspecific responses to seasonal hydrology and to quantify spatial variation in non‐native fish activity. Drift fences had higher detection probabilities for rare and sparse species than throw traps, causing discrepancies in the estimated spatial distribution of non‐native species from passively measuredCPUEand actively measured density. Detection probability of the passive sampler, but not the active sampler, varied seasonally with changes in water depth. The relationship betweenCPUEand density was sensitive to fluctuating depth, with most species not having a proportional relationship betweenCPUEand density until seasonal declines in depth. Activity rate estimates revealed interspecific differences in response to declining depths and identified locations and species with high rates of activity. We propose that variation in catchability from methods that passively measureCPUEcan be sources of ecological information on activity. We also suggest that model‐based combining of data types could be a productive approach for analyzing correspondence of incidence and abundance patterns in other applications.

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  8. Abstract

    Climate change has altered global precipitation patterns and has led to greater variation in hydrological conditions. Wetlands are important globally for their soil carbon storage. Given that wetland carbon processes are primarily driven by hydrology, a comprehensive understanding of the effect of inundation is needed. In this study, we evaluated the effect of water level (WL) and inundation duration (ID) on carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes by analysing a 10‐year (2008–2017) eddy covariance dataset from a seasonally inundated freshwater marl prairie in the Everglades National Park. Both gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER) rates showed declines under inundation. While GPP rates decreased almost linearly as WL and ID increased, ER rates were less responsive to WL increase beyond 30 cm and extended inundation periods. The unequal responses between GPP and ER caused a weaker net ecosystem CO2sink strength as inundation intensity increased. Eventually, the ecosystem tended to become a net CO2source on a daily basis when either WL exceeded 46 cm or inundation lasted longer than 7 months. Particularly, with an extended period of high‐WLs in 2016 (i.e., WL remained >40 cm for >9 months), the ecosystem became a CO2source, as opposed to being a sink or neutral for CO2in other years. Furthermore, the extreme inundation in 2016 was followed by a 4‐month postinundation period with lower net ecosystem CO2uptake compared to other years. Given that inundation plays a key role in controlling ecosystem CO2balance, we suggest that a future with more intensive inundation caused by climate change or water management activities can weaken the CO2sink strength of the Everglades freshwater marl prairies and similar wetlands globally, creating a positive feedback to climate change.

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  9. Abstract

    Long‐term ecological research can resolve effects of disturbance on ecosystem dynamics by capturing the scale of disturbance and interactions with environmental changes. To quantify how disturbances interact with long‐term directional changes (sea‐level rise, freshwater restoration), we studied 17 yr of monthly dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total nitrogen (TN), and phosphorus (TP) concentrations and bacterioplankton productivity across freshwater‐to‐marine estuary gradients exposed to multiple disturbance events (e.g., droughts, fire, hurricanes, and low‐temperature anomalies) and long‐term increases in water levels. By studying two neighboring drainages that differ in hydrologic connectivity, we additionally tested how disturbance legacies are shaped by hydrologic connectivity. We predicted that disturbance events would interact with long‐term increases in water levels in freshwater and marine ecosystems to increase spatiotemporal similarity (i.e., synchrony) of organic matter, nutrients, and microbial activities. Wetlands along the larger, deeper, and tidally influenced Shark River Slough (SRS) drainage had higher and more variable DOC, TN, and TP concentrations than wetlands along the smaller, shallower, tidally restricted Taylor River Slough/Panhandle (TS/Ph) drainage. Along SRS, DOC concentrations declined with proximity to coast, and increased in magnitude and variability following drought and flooding in 2015 and a hurricane in 2017. Along TS/Ph, DOC concentrations varied by site (higher in marine than freshwater wetlands) but not year. In both drainages, increases in TN from upstream freshwater marshes occurred following fire in 2008 and droughts in 2010 and 2015, whereas downstream increases in TP occurred with coastal storm surge from hurricanes in 2005 and 2017. Decreases in DOC:TN and DOC:TP were explained by increased TN and TP. Increases in bacterioplankton productivity occurred throughout both drainages following low‐temperature events (2010 and 2011) and a hurricane (2017). Long‐term TN and TP concentrations and bacterioplankton productivity were correlated (r > 0.5) across a range of sampling distances (1–50 km), indicating spatiotemporal synchrony. DOC concentrations were not synchronized across space or time. Our study advances disturbance ecology theory by illustrating how disturbance events interact with long‐term environmental changes and hydrologic connectivity to determine the magnitude and extent of disturbance legacies. Understanding disturbance legacies will enhance prediction and enable more effective management of rapidly changing ecosystems.

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  10. Abstract

    We mapped tidal wetland gross primary production (GPP) with unprecedented detail for multiple wetland types across the continental United States (CONUS) at 16‐day intervals for the years 2000–2019. To accomplish this task, we developed the spatially explicit Blue Carbon (BC) model, which combined tidal wetland cover and field‐based eddy covariance tower data into a single Bayesian framework, and used a super computer network and remote sensing imagery (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Enhanced Vegetation Index). We found a strong fit between the BC model and eddy covariance data from 10 different towers (r2= 0.83,p< 0.001, root‐mean‐square error = 1.22 g C/m2/day, average error was 7% with a mean bias of nearly zero). When compared with NASA's MOD17 GPP product, which uses a generalized terrestrial algorithm, the BC model reduced error by approximately half (MOD17 hadr2= 0.45,p< 0.001, root‐mean‐square error of 3.38 g C/m2/day, average error of 15%). The BC model also included mixed pixels in areas not covered by MOD17, which comprised approximately 16.8% of CONUS tidal wetland GPP. Results showed that across CONUS between 2000 and 2019, the average daily GPP per m2was 4.32 ± 2.45 g C/m2/day. The total annual GPP for the CONUS was 39.65 ± 0.89 Tg C/year. GPP for the Gulf Coast was nearly double that of the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts combined. Louisiana alone accounted for 15.78 ± 0.75 Tg C/year, with its Atchafalaya/Vermillion Bay basin at 4.72 ± 0.14 Tg C/year. The BC model provides a robust platform for integrating data from disparate sources and exploring regional trends in GPP across tidal wetlands.

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