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Title Variation in synchrony of production among species, sites and intertidal zones in coastal marshes
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Spatially synchronous population dynamics are important to ecosystem functioning and have several potential causes. By looking at synchrony in plant productivity over 18 years across two elevations in three types of coastal marsh habitat dominated by different clonal plant species in Georgia, USA, we were able to explore the importance of plant species and different habitat conditions to synchrony. Synchrony was highest when comparing within a plant species and within a marsh zone, and decreased across species, with increasing distance, and with increasing elevational differences. Abiotic conditions that were measured at individual sites (water column temperature and salinity) also showed high synchrony among sites, and in one case (salinity) decreased with increasing distance among sites. The Moran Effect (synchronous abiotic conditions among sites) is the most plausible explanation for our findings. Decreased synchrony between creekbank and mid-marsh zones, and among habitat types (tidal fresh, brackish and salt marsh) was likely due in part to different exposure to abiotic conditions and in part to variation in sensitivity of dominant plant species to these abiotic conditions. We found no evidence for asynchrony among species, sites or zones, indicating that one habitat type or zone will not compensate for poor production in another during years with low productivity; however, tidal fresh, brackish and salt marsh sites were also not highly synchronous with each other, which will moderate productivity variation among years at the landscape level due to the portfolio effect. We identified the creekbank zone as more sensitive than the mid-marsh to abiotic variation and therefore as a priority for monitoring and management.

Contributors Wenwen Liu and Steven C. Pennings

Liu, W. and Pennings, S.C. 2021. Variation in synchrony of production among species, sites and intertidal zones in coastal marshes. Ecology. (DOI: 10.1002/ECY.3278)

Key Words climate change, Juncus, salt marsh, Signature Publication, SINERR Publication, Spartina, Student Publication, synchrony, UGAMI Publication, Zizaniopsis
File Date 2021
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.