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  1. Abstract Objective

    Fisheries provide countless benefits to human populations but face many threats ranging from climate change to overfishing. Despite these threats and an increase in fishing pressure globally, most stocks remain unassessed and data limited. An abundance of data‐limited assessment methods exists, but each has different data requirements, caveats, and limitations. Furthermore, developing informative model priors can be difficult when little is known about the stock, and uncertain model parameters could create misleading results about stock status. Our research illustrates an approach for rapidly creating robust initial assessments of unregulated and data‐limited fisheries without the need for additional data collection.


    Our method uses stakeholder knowledge combined with a series of data‐limited tools to identify an appropriate stock assessment method, conduct an assessment, and examine how model uncertainty influences the results. Our approach was applied to the unregulated and data‐limited fishery for Crevalle JackCaranx hipposin Florida.


    Results suggested a steady increase in exploitation and a decline in stock biomass over time, with the stock currently overfished and undergoing overfishing. These findings highlight a need for management action to prevent continued stock depletion.


    Our approach can help to streamline the initial assessment and management process for unregulated and data‐limited stocks and serves as an additional tool for combating the many threats facing global fisheries.

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  2. Abstract

    Analysis of lignin in seawater is essential to understanding the fate of terrestrial dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the ocean and its role in the carbon cycle. Lignin is typically quantified by gas or liquid chromatography, coupled with mass spectrometry (GC‐MS or LC‐MS). MS instrumentation can be relatively expensive to purchase and maintain. Here we present an improved approach for quantification of lignin phenols using LC and absorbance detection. The approach applies a modified version of parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC2) to 2ndderivative absorbance chromatograms. It is capable of isolating individual elution profiles of analytes despite co‐elution and overall improves sensitivity and specificity, compared to manual integration methods. For most lignin phenols, detection limits below 5 nmol L−1were achieved, which is comparable to MS detection. The reproducibility across all laboratory stages for our reference material showed a relative standard deviation between 1.47% and 16.84% for all 11 lignin phenols. Changing the amount of DOM in the reaction vessel for the oxidation (dissolved organic carbon between 22 and 367 mmol L−1), did not significantly affect the final lignin phenol composition. The new method was applied to seawater samples from the Kattegat and Davis Strait. The total concentration of dissolved lignin phenols measured in the two areas was between 4.3–10.1 and 2.1–3.2 nmol L−1, respectively, which is within the range found by other studies. Comparison with a different oxidation approach and detection method (GC‐MS) gave similar results and underline the potential of LC and absorbance detection for analysis of dissolved lignin with our proposed method.

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  3. Abstract

    Macrophyte foundation species provide both habitat structure and primary production, and loss of these habitats can alter species interactions and lead to changes in energy flow in food webs. Extensive seagrass meadows in Florida Bay have recently experienced a widespread loss of seagrass habitat due to a Thalassia testudinum mass mortality event in 2015 associated with prolonged hypersalinity and bottom-water anoxia. Using stable isotope analysis paired with Bayesian mixing models, we investigated the basal resource use of seven species of seagrass-associated consumers across Florida Bay in areas affected by the 2015 seagrass die-off. Three years after the die-off, basal resource use did not differ for species collected inside and outside the die-off affected areas. Instead, consumers showed seasonal patterns in basal resource use with seagrass the most important in the wet season (58%), while epiphytes were the most important in the dry season (44%). Additionally, intraspecific spatial variability in resource use was lower in the wet season compared to the dry season. We were unable to detect a legacy effect of a major disturbance on the basal resource use of the most common seagrass-associated consumers in Florida Bay.

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  4. Abstract

    Mangroves buffer inland ecosystems from hurricane winds and storm surge. However, their ability to withstand harsh cyclone conditions depends on plant resilience traits and geomorphology. Using airborne lidar and satellite imagery collected before and after Hurricane Irma, we estimated that 62% of mangroves in southwest Florida suffered canopy damage, with largest impacts in tall forests (>10 m). Mangroves on well-drained sites (83%) resprouted new leaves within one year after the storm. By contrast, in poorly-drained inland sites, we detected one of the largest mangrove diebacks on record (10,760 ha), triggered by Irma. We found evidence that the combination of low elevation (median = 9.4 cm asl), storm surge water levels (>1.4 m above the ground surface), and hydrologic isolation drove coastal forest vulnerability and were independent of tree height or wind exposure. Our results indicated that storm surge and ponding caused dieback, not wind. Tidal restoration and hydrologic management in these vulnerable, low-lying coastal areas can reduce mangrove mortality and improve resilience to future cyclones.

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  5. Premise

    The southern Florida Everglades landscape sustains wetlands of national and international importance. Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), the dominant macrophyte in the Everglades, has two phenotypes that vary in size and density between Everglades marl prairies and peat marshes. Marl prairies have recently been hypothesized to be a newly formed habitat developed after European colonization as a result of landscape‐scale hydrologic modifications, implying that sawgrass marl phenotypes developed in response to the marl habitat. We examined whether sawgrass wetland phenotypes are plastic responses to marl and peat soils.


    In a common‐mesocosm experiment, seedlings from a single Everglades population were grown outdoors in field‐collected marl or peat soils. Growth and morphology of plants were measured over 14 mo, while soil and leaf total nitrogen, total phosphorus, total carbon, and plant biomass and biomass allocation were determined in a final harvest.


    Sawgrass plant morphology diverged in marl vs. peat soils, and variations in morphology and density of mesocosm‐grown plants resembled differences seen in sawgrass plants growing in marl and peat habitats in Everglades wetlands. Additionally, sawgrass growing in marl made abundant dauciform roots, while dauciform root production of sawgrass growing in peat was correlated with soil total phosphorus.


    Sawgrass from a single population grown in marl or peat soils can mimic sawgrass phenotypes associated with marl vs. peat habitats. This plasticity is consistent with the hypothesis that Everglades marl prairies are relatively new habitats that support plant communities assembled after European colonization and subsequent landscape modifications.

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  6. 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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  7. Abstract

    Mangroves are the most blue-carbon rich coastal wetlands contributing to the reduction of atmospheric CO2through photosynthesis (sequestration) and high soil organic carbon (C) storage. Globally, mangroves are increasingly impacted by human and natural disturbances under climate warming, including pervasive pulsing tropical cyclones. However, there is limited information assessing cyclone’s functional role in regulating wetlands carbon cycling from annual to decadal scales. Here we show how cyclones with a wide range of integrated kinetic energy (IKE) impact C fluxes in the Everglades, a neotropical region with high cyclone landing frequency. Using long-term mangrove Net Primary Productivity (Litterfall, NPPL) data (2001–2018), we estimated cyclone-induced litterfall particulate organic C (litter-POC) export from mangroves to estuarine waters. Our analysis revealed that this lateral litter-POC flux (71–205 g C m−2 year−1)—currently unaccounted in global C budgets—is similar to C burial rates (69–157 g C m−2 year−1) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC, 61–229 g C m−2 year−1) export. We proposed a statistical model (PULITER) between IKE-based pulse index and NPPLto determine cyclone’s impact on mangrove role as C sink or source. Including the cyclone’s functional role in regulating mangrove C fluxes is critical to developing local and regional climate change mitigation plans.

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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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