Shanze Li worked with Steve to synthesize 14 years of data on disturbance at the 8 GCE LTER fall monitoring sites dominated by Spartina alterniflora, and the paper was recently published in Ecosphere (Ecosphere 7(10):e01487. 10.1002/ecs2.1487). The results indicated considerable variation among sites and years in the amount of disturbance, and considerable variation between creekbank and midmarsh in the types of disturbance (wrack and slumping at the creekbank; snails in the mid-marsh). Barrier island sites experienced more disturbance than mainland sites. Wrack and snails and terminal slumping (when the plot ends up at the bottom of the creek) strongly affected biomass in affected plots, but overall, at the landscape level, disturbance did not have as strong an effect on fall biomass as abiotic conditions (salinity, sea level, temperature) did.
Congratulations to Huy Vu on successfully defending his dissertation in July. He did an excellent job. Huy is making some revisions to the draft of his dissertation and then is going to go back to focusing on writing papers and archiving his data sets. And looking for jobs. Please pass on any leads to him. He’s interested in both academic postdocs and agency positions.
Steve is a coauthor on two recent papers about the BP Deepwater horizon oil spill.
Zengel, S., S.C. Pennings, B. Silliman, C. Montague, J. Weaver, D.R. Deis, M.O. Krasnec, N. Rutherford, Z. Nixon. 2016. Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacts on salt marsh fiddler crabs (Uca). Estuaries and Coasts. DOI 10.1007/s12237-016-0072-6.
Zengel, S., C. L. Montague, S. C. Pennings, S. P. Powers, M. Steinhoff, G. Fricano, C. Schlemme, M. Zhang, J. Oehrig, Z. Nixon, S. Rouhani, J. Michel. 2016. Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on salt marsh periwinkles (Littoraria irrorata). Environmental Science & Technology 50:643-652. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04371.
Chris Gabler has taken a faculty position at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and is already deep into his first semester teaching. He’s close to the coast, a stone’s throw from the border, and in a position to help shape a growing new university. We wish him the best!
Steve and Don Strong have been working with Yihui Zhang in China over the past few years. A paper based on this collaboration is now published in the Journal of Ecology. It describes phenotypic variation in exotic Spartina alterniflora in China. Spartina alterniflora is now widespread along the Chinese coast. Across this distribution, plants exhibit phenotypic variation in plant height, shoot density and sexual reproduction, but most of this variation disappears in a common garden, indicating that it is mostly due to plasticity rather than fixed genetic traits. In the native range, at least some latitudinal variation in Spartina traits has a fixed genetic basis. Some of the latitudinal patterns are similar to those found across latitude in the native range in the US, but others are different or have not been studied in the US. Thus, the latitudinal clines show some different patterns and have different underlying mechanisms in the native and exotic ranges.
Liu, W., Maung-Douglass, K., Strong, D.R., Pennings, S.C. and Zhang, Y. (2016). Geographical variation in vegetative growth and sexual reproduction of the invasive Spartina alterniflora in China. Journal of Ecology 104:173-181.
Photograph: Yihui and his students measure introduced Spartina alterniflora in China.