Shanze Li and Steve Pennings recently published a paper on how the timing of wrack disturbance determines its effects on Spartina alterniflora and on stem-boring herbivores of Spartina. Plants completely recover from disturbance early in the season in terms of growth, and early disturbance actually stimulated flowering. Plants did not recover from disturbance later in the season, and flowering was suppressed. Plants disturbed late in the season also had a low frequency of stem-boring herbivores. The paper was featured on the cover of the journal Ecosphere, and is open access: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.1675/full
Our long-standing experimental project on the spread of mangroves in the Gulf Coast has produced its first paper. Hongyu led the effort, which describes how mangrove cover affects microclimate, marsh vegetation, wrack disturbance, sedimentation, soil organic content, and bird use of the wetlands. Ecology 98:762-772.
Top photo: I don’t know his name, but this grizzled veteran of the mangroves assisted me with the water quality instrument.
Bottom photo: Our noble leader Hongyu hard at work measuring mangroves.
Steve and colleagues publish paper on how geography and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected Littoraria recruitment
Coauthors included Pennings lab alumna Carolin McFarlin, GCE-LTER colleagues Merryl Alber and Dale Bishop, and old UGAMI colleague Keith Walters.
The paper is online and open access:
Pennings, S. C., S. Zengel, J. Oehrig, M. Alber, T. D. Bishop, D. R. Deis, D. Devlin, A. R. Hughes, J. J. Hutchens, W. M. Kiehn, C. R. McFarlin, C. L. Montague, S. Powers, C. E. Proffitt, N. Rutherford, C. L. Stagg, K. Walters. 2016. Marine ecogregion and Deepwater Horizon oil spill affect recruitment and population structure of a salt marsh snail. Ecosphere 7(12)e01588, DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1588.
Kurt Reinhart was part of the lab back in the old days when I was at Sapelo full time. He’s now working for the USDA Agricultural Research Service and recently co-authored a paper in Science on plant-soil feedbacks. The bottom line was that, for 550 populations of 55 species of trees across the USA, trees with arbuscular mycorrhizae had negative soil feedbacks whereas trees with ectomycorrhizae had positive soil feedbacks. Very cool stuff. Check it out:
Bennett et al. 2017, Plant-soil feedbacks and mycorrhizal type influence temperate forest population dynamics. Science 355:181-184.
Kurt studying something. From his website. Looks scientific.
The first paper from Huy’s dissertation is now published in Ecology. Huy compared four species of burrowing crabs and shows how one of them, Sesarma reticulatum, engineers the growth of headward-eroding creeks in tidal marshes in Georgia and South Carolina. This work got going with a phone call from Duncan FitzGerald at Boston University to Steve a number of years ago, and it has been a pleasure to interact with the FitzGerald lab as the work has progressed. The photograph shows the head of an eroding creek, with the area to the bottom left heavily burrowed by crabs, the central area soft unconsolidated mud, and the area to the upper right re-vegetating along the creek channel. The pipes and wood are part of an experiment (more on that when we get to paper 4…).
Read all about it: Vu, H., K. Wieski, S. C. Pennings. 2017. Ecosystem engineers drive creek formation in salt marshes. Ecology 98:162-174.
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.