Final Report: Interaction of Climate Change, Landuse and Invasive Species: Tests of Contrasting Management Scenarios for Coastal Communities

EPA Grant Number: R833838
Title: Interaction of Climate Change, Landuse and Invasive Species: Tests of Contrasting Management Scenarios for Coastal Communities
Investigators: Whitlatch, Robert B. , Osman, Richard W.
Institution: University of Connecticut , Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2012
Project Amount: $595,852
RFA: Ecological Impacts from the Interactions of Climate Change, Land Use Change and Invasive Species: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, USDA (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Ecosystems , Climate Change

Objective:

There are five objectives: (1) work with environmental managers and stakeholders to explore different scenarios for land use planning, development of coastal areas, habitat restoration, or other management issues in the context of climate change and invasive species; (2) conduct mesocosm experiments testing links between climate change and land use in altering the ability of invasive species to affect native communities; (3) conduct field experiments to assess temporal and/or spatial scales of potential efforts needed to effectively manage invasive species – goals include testing whether marina-scale or larger scale eradication are needed to control future invasions and the timing in which management of invasive species is most effective; (4) conduct field experiments examining survival of key predators of invasive species in areas of different land use – if predators are limiting invasions of open coast habitats, it is important to understand what limits the distribution of these critical species; and (5) develop predictive models to assess alternative management strategies.

Conclusions:

This research aimed to address complex questions regarding coastal invasive species such as the impact of spatial differences, habitat quality, predation and disturbance frequency and magnitude. The epifaunal communities of the southern New England, USA, region between eastern Long Island Sound, CT, and Cape Cod, MA, comprise a complex system which leads to the establishment of four distinct community states, including: (1) a diverse native community dominated by bryozoans and sponges most commonly found in open coast areas, (2) an invasive ascidian community characteristic of marinas and areas of coastal development, (3) a mussel-dominated community occurring after massive recruitment, and (4) an ascidian community dominated by Diplosoma listerianum that occurs only in years following warm winters.

The spatial extent and duration of each community type can be highly variable. Processes that control the resilience of each state and the thresholds beyond which a transition to a new state includes fast and local processes such as within-population recruitment, predation or bioengineering by mussels or slow regional processes such as climate change, coastal development or habitat restoration. Of these, coastal development and restoration efforts are under management control and could have large effects on these community states, in particular the native community. However, we may not be able to influence large-scale regional processes such as climate change that may favor non-native communities. Nevertheless, the different community states can be used as indicators of both local and regional management success and allow local management efforts to be put in the context of larger scale shifts in threshold conditions that affect regional community patterns.

Slow regional processes such as climate change impact the invasibility of these communities. We found a temperature threshold for the invasive ascidian D. listerianum. When mean winter temperature was below 5° C, D. listerianum did not recruit and was absent from the community but when the winter mean was above 5° C, D. listerianum recruited in large numbers and was a dominant species.

Results also suggest changes in benthic species composition are caused by changes in spatial heterogeneity over several generations. For many benthic species, hard substrate is a limiting resource that can vary in availability among different coastal areas. We modeled gradual changes from a heterogeneous landscape (mimicking patches of natural hard and soft substrate) to a homogeneous one (analogous to a fully developed coast with hard, manmade substrate) and followed the abundance and distribution patterns of species possessing four different life histories. We also modeled changes from homogeneous to heterogeneous landscapes. We found that as regions become more homogeneous, species extinctions become more frequent and poor dispersers dominate locally. In contrast, as habitats become more heterogeneous, species distributing across localities leads to regional species coexistence and fewer extinctions. These results suggest that focusing on changing habitat heterogeneity can be a useful management strategy to prevent poor dispersing species, such as invasive ascidians, from driving communities to monocultures.


Journal Articles on this Report : 6 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 21 publications 8 publications in selected types All 7 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Lord J, Whitlatch R. Inducible defenses in the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica Gmelin in response to the presence of the predatory oyster drill Urosalpinx cinerea Say in Long Island Sound. Marine Biology 2012;159(6):1177-1182. R833838 (Final)
  • Full-text: Springer-Full-text PDF
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  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract & Full-text HTML
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  • Journal Article Munguia P, Osman R, Hamilton J, Whitlatch R, Zajac R. Changes in habitat heterogeneity alter marine sessile benthic communities. Ecological Applications 2011;21(3):925-935. R833838 (2011)
    R833838 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: University of New Haven-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Osman, R.W., P. Munguia, R.B. Whitlatch, R.N. Zajac and J. Hamilton. Thresholds and multiple community states in marine fouling communities:integrating natural history with management strategies. Marine Ecology Progress Series 2010;413:277-289. R833838 (2011)
    R833838 (Final)
  • Full-text: Marine Ecology Progress Series-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: Marine Ecology Progress Series-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Reinhardt JF, Stefaniak LM, Hudson DM, Mangiafico J, Gladych R, Whitlatch RB. First record of the non-native light bulb tunicate Clavelina lepadiformis (Muller, 1776) in the northwest Atlantic. Aquatic Invasions 2010;5(2):185-190. R833838 (2010)
    R833838 (2011)
    R833838 (Final)
  • Full-text: Aquatic Invasions-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: Aquatic Invasions-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Reinhardt J, Gallagher KL, Stefaniak LM, Nolan R, Shaw MT, Whitlatch RB. Material properties of Didemnum vexillum and prediction of tendril fragmentation. Marine Biology 2012;159(12):2875-2884. R833838 (Final)
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  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract & Full-text HTML
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  • Journal Article Westerman EL, Whitlatch R, Dijkstra JA, Harris LG. Variation in brooding period masks similarities in response to changing temperatures. Marine Ecology Progress Series 2009;391:13-19. R833838 (2008)
    R833838 (2009)
    R833838 (2010)
    R833838 (2011)
    R833838 (Final)
  • Full-text: MEPS-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: MEPS-Abstract
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Climate change, coastal communities, land use, invasive species, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Environmental Chemistry, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Aquatic Ecosystem, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, environmental measurement, meteorology, socioeconomics, climate models, ecosystem indicators, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, coastal ecosystems, global climate models, invasive species, ecological models, climate model, ecosystem stress, land and water resources, Global Climate Change, atmospheric chemistry

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2009 Progress Report
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report