Edge relationships between distinct habitats within ecosystems are poorly understood. How these relationships adjust to climate change will likely have large community-wide implications. Climate change is driving current sea-level rise and increased storm frequency and intensity, and this trend is predicted to intensify, resulting in dramatic effects on coastal habitat patterns. Here we apply landscape ecology methods to study spatial relationships between ecosystem engineers (Spartina alterniflora and Crassostrea virginica) across an estuarine gradient. Our research found a faciliatory interaction between our focal species at reef scales. However, over larger estuarine scales,we found that engineering sign and magnitude was a function of the physical environment, with legacy engineering dominating at high energy coastal habitats. We also observed that the size andthe associated effects of engineering were controlled by the underlying landscape geometry. These findings will help predict how these habitats will respond to environmental change.
Speaker: Daniel Harris, Postdoctoral Fellow, Boyer Lab, Estuary and Ocean Science Center, SFSU
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