Nonconsumptive effects (NCEs) have been shown to occur in numerous systems and are regarded as important mechanisms by which predation structures natural communities. Sensory ecology-that is, the processes governing the production, propagation, and masking of cues by ambient noise-provides insights into the strength of NCEs as functions of the environment and modes of information transfer. We discuss how properties of predators are used by prey to encode threat, how the environment affects cue propagation, and the role of single sensory processes versus multimodal sensory processes. We discuss why the present body of literature documents the potential for strong NCEs but does not allow us to easily determine how this potential is expressed in nature or what factors or environments produce strong versus weak NCEs. Many of these difficulties stem from a body of literature in which certain sensory environments and modalities may be disproportionately represented and in which experimental methodologies are designed to show the existence of NCEs. We present a general framework for examining NCEs to identify the factors controlling the number of prey that respond to predator cues and discuss how the properties of predators, prey, and the environment may determine prey perceptive range and the duration and frequency of cue production. We suggest how understanding these relationships provides a schema for determining where, when, why, and how NCEs are important in producing direct and cascading effects in natural communities.
Tidal wetlands produce long-term soil organic carbon (C) stocks. Thus for carbon accounting purposes, we need accurate and precise information on the magnitude and spatial distribution of those stocks. We assembled and analyzed an unprecedented soil core dataset, and tested three strategies for mapping carbon stocks: applying the average value from the synthesis to mapped tidal wetlands, applying models fit using empirical data and applied using soil, vegetation and salinity maps, and relying on independently generated soil carbon maps. Soil carbon stocks were far lower on average and varied less spatially and with depth than stocks calculated from available soils maps. Further, variation in carbon density was not well-predicted based on climate, salinity, vegetation, or soil classes. Instead, the assembled dataset showed that carbon density across the conterminous united states (CONUS) was normally distributed, with a predictable range of observations. We identified the simplest strategy, applying mean carbon density (27.0 kg C m−3), as the best performing strategy, and conservatively estimated that the top meter of CONUS tidal wetland soil contains 0.72 petagrams C. This strategy could provide standardization in CONUS tidal carbon accounting until such a time as modeling and mapping advancements can quantitatively improve accuracy and precision.
Marine invertebrates commonly produce larvae that disperse in ocean waters before settling into adult shoreline habitat. Chemical and other seafloor-associated cues often facilitate this latter transition. However, the range of effectiveness of such cues is limited to small spatial scales, creating challenges for larvae in finding suitable sites at which to settle, especially given that they may be carried many kilometers by currents during their planktonic phase. One possible solution is for larvae to use additional, broader-scale environmental signposts to first narrow their search to the general vicinity of a candidate settlement location. Here we demonstrate strong effects of just such a habitat-scale cue, one with the potential to signal larvae that they have arrived in appropriate coastal areas. Larvae of the purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) exhibit dramatic enhancement in settlement following stimulation by turbulent shear typical of wave-swept shores where adults of this species live. This response manifests in an unprecedented fashion relative to previously identified cues. Turbulent shear does not boost settlement by itself. Instead, it drives a marked developmental acceleration that causes "precompetent" larvae refractory to chemical settlement inducers to immediately become "competent" and thereby reactive to such inducers. These findings reveal an unrecognized ability of larval invertebrates to shift the trajectory of a major life history event in response to fluid-dynamic attributes of a target environment. Such an ability may improve performance and survival in marine organisms by encouraging completion of their life cycle in advantageous locations. competence | energy dissipation rate | metamorphosis | surf zone | turbulence N early 80% of marine invertebrate species that dwell along the shore possess a two-phase life cycle (1). Such life cycles typically are composed of an adult stage resident on the seafloor and a dispersing larval stage that develops in the plankton before returning to, and settling within, shoreline habitat. Because planktonic larval stages foster demographic connectivity among populations (2-4) and because the transition to the substratum often is irreversible and fraught with high mortality (5), considerable attention has focused on cues used by larvae to identify and settle in quality locations. In particular, research has centered on chemical compounds that induce settlement. A rich array of dissolved and surface-bound chemicals have been implicated, including amino acids and proteins, fatty acids, and carbohydrates (6-8). Such substances often are associated with food, prey, adults of the same species, or biofilms composed of microorganisms. Other habitat properties also may be assessed by larvae once they contact the seafloor. For example, larvae often prefer certain substratum textures and topographies, light intensities, or local water velocities (9-13).Despite their clear importance as signals for larvae, chemical and other seafloor-associated cues p...
Despite the abundance of literature on organismal responses to multiple environmental stressors, most studies have not matched the timing of experimental manipulations with the temporal pattern of stressors in nature. We test the interactive effects of diel-cycling hypoxia with both warming and decreased salinities using ecologically realistic exposures. Surprisingly, we found no evidence of negative synergistic effects on Olympia oyster growth; rather, we found only additive and opposing effects of hypoxia (detrimental) and warming (beneficial). We suspect that dielcycling provided a temporal refuge that allowed physiological compensation. We also tested for latent effects of warming and hypoxia to low-salinity tolerance using a seasonal delay between stressor events. However, we did not find a latent effect, rather a threshold survival response to low salinity that was independent of early life-history exposure to warming or hypoxia. The absence of synergism is likely the result of stressor treatments that mirror the natural timing of environmental stressors. We provide environmental context for laboratory experimental data by examining field time series environmental data from four North American west coast estuaries and find heterogeneous environmental signals that characterize each estuary, suggesting that the potential stressor exposure to oysters will drastically differ over moderate spatial scales. This heterogeneity implies that efforts to conserve and restore oysters will require an adaptive approach that incorporates knowledge of local conditions. We conclude that studies of multiple environmental stressors can be greatly improved by integrating ecologically realistic exposure and timing of stressors found in nature with organismal life-history traits.
Complex life cycles have evolved independently numerous times in marine animals as well as in disparate algae. Such life histories typically involve a dispersive immature stage followed by settlement and metamorphosis to an adult stage on the sea floor. One commonality among animals exhibiting transitions of this type is that their larvae pass through a ‘precompetent’ period in which they do not respond to localized settlement cues, before entering a ‘competent’ period, during which cues can induce settlement. Despite the widespread existence of these two phases, relatively little is known about how larvae transition between them. Moreover, recent studies have blurred the distinction between the phases by demonstrating that fluid turbulence can spark precocious activation of competence. Here, we further investigate this phenomenon by exploring how larval interactions with turbulence change across ontogeny, focusing on offspring of the sand dollar Dendraster excentricus (Eschscholtz). Our data indicate that larvae exhibit increased responsiveness to turbulence as they get older. We also demonstrate a likely cost to precocious competence: the resulting juveniles are smaller. Based upon these findings, we outline a new, testable conception of competence that has the potential to reshape our understanding of larval dispersal and connectivity among marine populations.
Predators often have large effects on community structure, but these effects can be minimized in habitats subjected to intense physical stress. For example, predators exert large effects on rocky intertidal communities on wave-protected shores but are usually absent from wave-swept shores where hydrodynamic forces prevent them from foraging effectively. The physical environment also can affect predation levels when stressors are not severe enough to be physically risky. In these situations, environmental conditions may constrain a predator's ability to locate prey and alleviate predation pressure. Yet, stress models of community structure have rarely considered the implications of such sensory or behavioral stressors, particularly when the sensory abilities of both predators and prey are affected by the same types of environmental conditions. Ecologists may classify certain environmental conditions as refuges if they impede predator foraging, but these conditions may not actually decrease predation levels if they simultaneously increase prey vulnerability to consumers. Using blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) as a model system, we investigated the relationship between predation intensity and environmental stress in the form of hydrodynamics (i.e., flow velocity and turbulence). Blue crabs and hard clams are less responsive to each other in faster, more turbulent flows, but studies exploring how flow modulates the outcomes of crab-clam interactions in the field are lacking. We manipulated turbulence within field sites and compared predation levels within and between sites that differed in flow velocity and turbulence. Our results suggest that blue crabs are most effective foragers in flows with intermediate velocities and turbulence levels. Although these conditions are not ideal for blue crabs, lab studies indicate that they also compromise the ability of clams to detect and react to approaching crabs and, thereby, increase clam vulnerability to predators. Our results suggest that environmental stresses on perception (sensory stressors) may not cause a steady decay in predation rates when they simultaneously affect the behaviors of both predators and prey. Moreover, the relative contribution of lethal vs. nonlethal predator effects in communities also may be influenced by environmental forces that enhance the predator-avoidance abilities of prey or the foraging efficiency of predators.
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