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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  6. Abstract Background Spawning migrations are a widespread phenomenon among fishes, often occurring in response to environmental conditions prompting movement into reproductive habitats (migratory cues). However, for many species, individual fish may choose not to migrate, and research suggests that conditions preceding the spawning season (migratory primers) may influence this decision. Few studies have provided empirical descriptions of these prior conditions, partly due to a lack of long-term data allowing for robust multi-year comparisons. To investigate how primers and cues interact to shape the spawning migrations of coastal fishes, we use acoustic telemetry data from Common Snook ( Centropomus undecimalis ) in Everglades National Park, Florida, USA. A contingent of Snook migrate between rivers and coastal spawning sites, varying annually in both the proportion of the population that migrates and the timing of migration within the spawning season. However, the specific environmental factors that serve as migratory primers and cues remain unknown. Methods We used eight years of acoustic telemetry data (2012–2019) from 173 tagged Common Snook to investigate how primers and cues influence migratory patterns at different temporal scales. We hypothesize that (1) interannual differences in hydrologic conditions preceding the spawning season contribute to the number of individuals migrating eachmore »year, and (2) specific environmental cues trigger the timing of migrations during the spawning season. We used GLMMs to model both the annual and seasonal migratory response in relation to flow characteristics (water level, rate of change in water level), other hydrologic/abiotic conditions (temperature, salinity), fish size, and phenological cues independent of riverine conditions (photoperiod, lunar cycle). Results We found that the extent of minimum marsh water level prior to migration and fish size influence the proportion of Snook migrating each year, and that high river water level and daily rates of change serve as primary cues triggering migration timing. Conclusion Our findings illustrate how spawning migrations are shaped by environmental factors acting at different temporal scales and emphasize the importance of long-term movement data in understanding these patterns. Research providing mechanistic descriptions of conditions that promote migration and reproduction can help inform management decisions aimed at conserving ecologically and economically important species.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
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  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  9. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023