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  1. Abstract

    Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) inputs to the landscape have serious consequences for inland and coastal waters. Reservoirs are effective at mitigating downstream N fluxes but measurements have generally focused on large reservoirs and have not considered seasonal variability or all N forms. In this study, we conducted an N mass balance in eight small reservoirs (surface area <0.55 km2) in coastal New England over annual time periods, including both inorganic and organic forms of N. We found that small reservoirs have high capacity for dissolved inorganic N (DIN) retention during low and moderate discharge, but are roughly in balance for DIN at higher discharge. Because proportional DIN retention occurred when N inputs were at their lowest, their effect on downstream N fluxes is small over annual time frames. Further, dissolved organic N (DON) was also evident during low flow late in the warm season. Accounting for DON production, the net effect of reservoirs on total dissolved N (TDN) fluxes was limited. These transformations between inorganic and organic N should be considered when evaluating the effect of small reservoirs on TDN fluxes over seasonal and annual timescales. With dam removal becoming a common solution to aging, unsafe dams, their ability to retain or produce N must be scrutinized at longer time scales while accounting for the complete N pool to better comprehend the effect their reservoirs have on downstream waters.

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  2. Abstract Aim

    Light, essential for photosynthesis, is present in two periodic cycles in nature: seasonal and diel. Although seasonality of light is typically resolved in ocean biogeochemical–ecosystem models because of its significance for seasonal succession and biogeography of phytoplankton, the diel light cycle is generally not resolved. The goal of this study is to demonstrate the impact of diel light cycles on phytoplankton competition and biogeography in the global ocean.


    Global ocean.

    Major taxa studied



    We use a three‐dimensional global ocean model and compare simulations of high temporal resolution with and without diel light cycles. The model simulates 15 phytoplankton types with different cell sizes, encompassing two broad ecological strategies: small cells with high nutrient affinity (gleaners) and larger cells with high maximal growth rate (opportunists). Both are grazed by zooplankton and limited by nitrogen, phosphorus and iron.


    Simulations show that diel cycles of light induce diel cycles in limiting nutrients in the global ocean. Diel nutrient cycles are associated with higher concentrations of limiting nutrients, by 100% at low latitudes (−40° to 40°), a process that increases the relative abundance of opportunists over gleaners. Size classes with the highest maximal growth rates from both gleaner and opportunist groups are favoured by diel light cycles. This mechanism weakens as latitude increases, because the effects of the seasonal cycle dominate over those of the diel cycle.

    Main conclusions

    Understanding the mechanisms that govern phytoplankton biogeography is crucial for predicting ocean ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycles. We show that the diel light cycle has a significant impact on phytoplankton competition and biogeography, indicating the need for understanding the role of diel processes in shaping macroecological patterns in the global ocean.

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  3. Abstract

    Manipulation of host phenotypes by parasites is hypothesized to be an adaptive strategy enhancing parasite transmission across hosts and generations. Characterizing the molecular mechanisms of manipulation is important to advance our understanding of host–parasite coevolution. The trematode (Levinseniella byrdi) is known to alter the colour and behaviour of its amphipod host (Orchestia grillus) presumably increasing predation of amphipods which enhances trematode transmission through its life cycle. We sampled 24 infected and 24 uninfected amphipods from a salt marsh in Massachusetts to perform differential gene expression analysis. In addition, we constructed novel genomic tools forO. grillusincluding a de novo genome and transcriptome. We discovered that trematode infection results in upregulation of amphipod transcripts associated with pigmentation and detection of external stimuli, and downregulation of multiple amphipod transcripts implicated in invertebrate immune responses, such as vacuolar ATPase genes. We hypothesize that suppression of immune genes and the altered expression of genes associated with coloration and behaviour may allow the trematode to persist in the amphipod and engage in further biochemical manipulation that promotes transmission. The genomic tools and transcriptomic analyses reported provide new opportunities to discover how parasites alter diverse pathways underlying host phenotypic changes in natural populations.

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  4. Abstract

    The long‐term stability of coastal wetlands is determined by interactions among sea level, plant primary production, sediment supply, and wetland vertical accretion. Human activities in watersheds have significantly altered sediment delivery from the landscape to the coastal ocean, with declines along much of the U.S. East Coast. Tidal wetlands in coastal systems with low sediment supply may have limited ability to keep pace with accelerating rates of sea‐level rise (SLR). Here, we show that rates of vertical accretion and carbon accumulation in nine tidal wetland systems along the U.S. East Coast from Maine to Georgia can be explained by differences in the rate of relative SLR (RSLR), the concentration of suspended sediments in the rivers draining to the coast, and temperature in the coastal region. Further, we show that rates of vertical accretion have accelerated over the past century by between 0.010 and 0.083 mm yr−2, at roughly the same pace as the acceleration of global SLR. We estimate that rates of carbon sequestration in these wetland soils have accelerated (more than doubling at several sites) along with accelerating accretion. Wetland accretion and carbon accumulation have accelerated more rapidly in coastal systems with greater relative RSLR, higher watershed sediment availability, and lower temperatures. These findings suggest that the biogeomorphic feedback processes that control accretion and carbon accumulation in these tidal wetlands have responded to accelerating RSLR, and that changes to RSLR, watershed sediment supply, and temperature interact to determine wetland vulnerability across broad geographic scales.

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  5. Abstract

    Salt marsh ponds expand and deepen over time, potentially reducing ecosystem carbon storage and resilience. The water filled volumes of ponds represent missing carbon due to prevented soil accumulation and removal by erosion and decomposition. Removal mechanisms have different implications as eroded carbon can be redistributed while decomposition results in loss. We constrained ponding effects on carbon dynamics in a New England marsh and determined whether expansion and deepening impact nearby soils by conducting geochemical characterizations of cores from three ponds and surrounding high marshes and models of wind‐driven erosion. Radioisotope profiles demonstrate that ponds are not depositional environments and that contemporaneous marsh accretion represents prevented accumulation accounting for 32%–42% of the missing carbon. Erosion accounted for 0%–38% and was bracketed using radioisotope inventories and wind‐driven resuspension models. Decomposition, calculated by difference, removes 22%–68%, and when normalized over pond lifespans, produces rates that agree with previous metabolism measurements. Pond surface soils contain new contributions from submerged primary producers and evidence of microbial alteration of underlying peat, as higher levels of detrital biomarkers and thermal stability indices, compared to the marsh. Below pond surface horizons, soil properties and organic matter composition were similar to the marsh, indicating that ponding effects are shallow. Soil bulk density, elemental content, and accretion rates were similar between marsh sites but different from ponds, suggesting that lateral effects are spatially confined. Consequently, ponds negatively impact ecosystem carbon storage but at current densities are not causing pervasive degradation of marshes in this system.

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  6. Abstract

    Around the world, wetland vulnerability to sea‐level rise (SLR) depends on different factors including tidal regimes, topography, creeks and estuary geometry, sediment availability, vegetation type, etc. The Plum Island estuary (PIE) is a mesotidal wetland system on the east coast of the United States. This research applied a newly updated Hydro‐MEM (integrated hydrodynamic‐marsh) model to assess the impacts of intermediate‐low (50 cm), intermediate (1 m), and intermediate‐high (1.5 m) SLR on marsh evolution by the year 2100. Model advancements include capturing vegetation change, inorganic and below and aboveground organic matter portion of marsh platform accretion, and mudflat creation. Although the results indicate a low vulnerability marsh at the PIE, the vegetation changes from high to low marsh under all SLR scenarios (2%–22%), with the higher bounds belonging to higher rise scenarios. Lower SLR produces more productive marsh (13% gain in high productivity regions), whereas the highest SLR scenario causes increased tidal inundation, which leads to loss in productivity (12% change from high to low productivity regions), generation of mudflats (17% of the domain land), and marsh migration to higher lands. Sensitive nonlinear tidal flow changes, which may be increased or decreased with SLR as a result of mudflat creation, marsh migration, and bottom friction change, emphasize the importance of integrated modeling approaches that include dynamic marsh feedbacks in hydrodynamic modeling and varying hydrodynamic effects on the marsh system.

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  7. Abstract

    Wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta are rapidly degrading. Sea level rise and low sediment supply are widely recognized as the two main factors contributing to land‐to‐water conversion. To determine what marsh areas are more resilient, it is fundamental to identify the drivers that regulate marsh accretion and degradation. In this study, a combination of field data and aerial images is used to determine these drivers in Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana, USA. We find that accretion and degradation patterns depend on whether the marsh is located inland in a sheltered area or facing open water. In the first case, the distance to the nearby channel is important, because during flooding of the marsh platform more sediment is deposited in the proximity of channel banks. The accretion rates of marshes facing open water are high and correlate to fetch, a proxy for the ability of waves to resuspend bottom sediment. These areas are more resilient to sea level rise, but waves are also the main mechanism of degradation, as these marshes tend to degrade by edge erosion. Consequently, we propose a bimodal evolution trajectory of the marshes in Terrebonne Bay: marshes close to the bay and facing open water accrete rapidly but are affected by lateral erosion due to waves, whereas sheltered marshes accrete slowly and degrade in large swathes due to insufficient sediment supply.

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  8. Abstract

    River networks regulate carbon and nutrient exchange between continents, atmosphere, and oceans. However, contributions of riverine processing are poorly constrained at continental scales. Scaling relationships of cumulative biogeochemical function with watershed size (allometric scaling) provide an approach for quantifying the contributions of fluvial networks in the Earth system. Here we show that allometric scaling of cumulative riverine function with watershed area ranges from linear to superlinear, with scaling exponents constrained by network shape, hydrological conditions, and biogeochemical process rates. Allometric scaling is superlinear for processes that are largely independent of substrate concentration (e.g., gross primary production) due to superlinear scaling of river network surface area with watershed area. Allometric scaling for typically substrate-limited processes (e.g., denitrification) is linear in river networks with high biogeochemical activity or low river discharge but becomes increasingly superlinear under lower biogeochemical activity or high discharge, conditions that are widely prevalent in river networks. The frequent occurrence of superlinear scaling indicates that biogeochemical activity in large rivers contributes disproportionately to the function of river networks in the Earth system.

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  9. Abstract

    Coastal wetlands are nourished by rivers and periodical tidal flows through complex, interconnected channels. However, in hydrodynamic models, channel dimensions with respect to model grid size and uncertainties in topography preclude the correct propagation of tidal and riverine signals. It is therefore crucial to enhance channel geomorphic connectivity and simplify sub‐channel features based on remotely sensed networks for practical computational applications. Here, we utilize channel networks derived from diverse remote sensing imagery as a baseline to build a ∼10 m resolution hydrodynamic model that covers the Wax Lake Delta and adjacent wetlands (∼360 km2) in coastal Louisiana, USA. In this richly gauged system, intensive calibrations are conducted with 18 synchronous field‐observations of water levels taken in 2016, and discharge data taken in 2021. We modify channel geometry, targeting realism in channel connectivity. The results show that a minimum channel depth of 2 m and a width of four grid elements (approximatively 40 m) are required to enable a realistic tidal propagation in wetland channels. The optimal depth for tidal propagation can be determined by a simplified cost function method that evaluates the competition between flow travel time and alteration of the volume of the channels. The integration of high spatial‐resolution models and remote sensing imagery provides a general framework to improve models performance in salt marshes, mangroves, deltaic wetlands, and tidal flats.

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  10. Abstract

    Headwater streams are known sources of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere, but their contribution to global scale budgets remains poorly constrained. While efforts have been made to better understand diffusive fluxes of CH4in streams, much less attention has been paid to ebullitive fluxes. We examine the temporal and spatial heterogeneity of CH4ebullition from four lowland headwater streams in the temperate northeastern United States over a 2‐yr period. Ebullition was observed in all monitored streams with an overall mean rate of 1.00 ± 0.23 mmol CH4m−2d−1, ranging from 0.01 to 1.79 to mmol CH4m−2d−1across streams. At biweekly timescales, rates of ebullition tended to increase with temperature. We observed a high degree of spatial heterogeneity in CH4ebullition within and across streams. Yet, catchment land use was not a simple predictor of this heterogeneity, and instead patches scale variability weakly explained by water depth and sediment organic matter content and quality. Overall, our results support the prevalence of CH4ebullition from streams and high levels of variability characteristic of this process. Our findings also highlight the need for robust temporal and spatial sampling of ebullition in lotic ecosystems to account for this high level of heterogeneity, where multiple sampling locations and times are necessary to accurately represent the mean rate of flux in a stream. The heterogeneity observed likely indicates a complex set of drivers affect CH4ebullition from streams which must be considered when upscaling site measurements to larger spatial scales.

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