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Seascape structure and complexity influence temperate seagrass fish assemblage composition
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Number of Authors: 42017 (English)In: Ecography, ISSN 0906-7590, E-ISSN 1600-0587, Vol. 40, no 8, p. 936-946Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Understanding how spatial patterning relates to ecological processes is fundamental to define important species-environment associations at broader scales. Analyses targeting habitat structure (i.e. composition and configuration) in terrestrial landscapes are increasing, but similar studies in marine landscapes are still relatively uncommon. In this study, we explored how seascape structure and complexity (determined from significant spatial pattern metrics) influenced summer and autumn fish assemblage composition in 30 seagrass (Zostera marina) meadows along the west coast of Sweden. Species density was not influenced by seascape structure in any season. In contrast, the majority of significant fish assemblage variables were influenced by seascape structure during the summer (i.e. abundance and proportion of juveniles, abundance of Labridae and abundance of occasional shallow-water visitors) whilst fewer in the autumn (i.e. abundance of occasional shallow-water visitors and Synganthidae). For instance, less complex seascapes were more suitable for juvenile assemblages in summer, as these seascapes exhibit larger patch sizes of appropriate habitat (e.g. Z. marina) and less edge boundaries providing refuges from predators and food resources. Abundances of migrating fish, such as the sea trout Salmo trutta, also responded positively to a less complex seascape in the summer though perhaps ecological processes, such as prey availability, were additional contributing factors driving this relationship. High complexity seascapes only had a positive influence on the abundance of taxa using multiple habitats (Labridae during the summer). Our study shows that fish assemblages in temperate marine environments are significantly linked to spatial habitat patterning and seascape complexity. This offers valuable insights into species-habitat-seascape linkages, information important for coastal conservation and marine spatial planning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 40, no 8, p. 936-946
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147138DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02745ISI: 000406971800004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-147138DiVA, id: diva2:1145280
Available from: 2017-09-28 Created: 2017-09-28 Last updated: 2018-07-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Swedish seagrass ecosystems in a changing climate: Coastal connectivity and global change sensitivity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish seagrass ecosystems in a changing climate: Coastal connectivity and global change sensitivity
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Coastal shallow-water ecosystems are essential for providing several goods and services globally, with seagrasses as an important contributor for maintaining high biodiversity and productivity within the nearshore seascape. The temperate species Zostera marina serves as a vital habitat for many species, including ecologically and economically important juvenile fish. Ecological patterns and processes within the shallow-water seascape are driven by a multitude of factors, for instance food-web dynamics, species interactions, habitat configuration, oceanographic hydrodynamics, and influenced by human impacts, all occurring at different spatial and temporal scales. A complex interworking of abiotic and biotic processes takes place within the coastal environment with the system expected to be impacted by future climate changes. This scientific work contributes to the ecological understanding of coastal marine ecosystems by examining connectivity and disturbance effects on multiple spatiotemporal scales. 

The thesis consists of two main themes: 1) evaluation of the influence of seascape structure on seagrass fish communities at different scales, and 2) understanding species’ physiological responses to multiple global change stressors in Z. marina meadows, and the regional implications of these results. The work focused on temperate Swedish coastal waters. To address these themes a variety of methods were performed including a seascape ecology field approach, experimental laboratory work and spatial modeling. The results contribute to the understanding of seascape connectivity and the impact of disturbance from climate-related stressors on the shallow-water ecosystem and associated fish communities. 

The results highlight the importance of evaluating fish assemblages at multiple spatial scales, from within-meadow characteristics to region-wide geographical features. Generally, fish with higher site fidelity were found to be influenced by smaller scale (meters) habitat characteristics, while broader ranging, more migratory species showed impacts on a larger scale (kilometers). It was also shown that the shallow-water environment has a fish assemblage overlap, with the same species found within multiple coastal habitats, dominated by juvenile fish (in summer), thus constituting a shallow-water seascape nursery. Regarding the consequences of global change the thesis showed that, while individual global change stressors can have either positive, negative or neutral affects depending on the species in question, all trophic levels of the mesocosm study showed a deleterious stress response to multiple stressors combined. With the significance of these laboratory results in mind, the final risk assessment identified three high-risk regions for seagrass meadows along parts of the Swedish coast that are expected to be exposed to a high degree of change from multiple coinciding global stressors by the end of the century.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2018
Keywords
coastal seascape, shallow-water ecosystems, fish assemblages, connectivity, global change, climate change, multiple stressors, seagrass, Zostera marina, temperate region
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-158420 (URN)978-91-7797-375-1 (ISBN)978-91-7797-374-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-09-14, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-08-22 Created: 2018-07-31 Last updated: 2018-08-22Bibliographically approved

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