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Wang et al 2024 is the bridge between the disturbance focus of GCE IV and the variance focus of GCE V

Wang et al (Wang, Yinhua, Hongyu Guo, Merryl Alber, Steven C. Pennings. 2024. Variance reflects resilience to disturbance along a stress gradient: experimental evidence from coastal marshes. Ecology 2024;e4241. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.4241.) is now published. This paper, which had its origin in an experiment that Steve's student Hongyu started in 2006, is the key connection between what we studied in GCE IV (disturbance) and what we're proposing for GCE V (variance). 

The original experiment was a transplant experiment into cleared plots and intact vegetation to study competition. Once the experiment was over, we realized we had a great opportunity to study recovery from a severe disturbance, because the cleared plots were located along the entire salinity gradient of the estuary, from tidal fresh to salt marshes. We followed recovery and found that some plots re-vegetated quickly whereas others (in Juncus stands) took over a decade to recover. Within a vegetation type, recovery was slower at sites with higher salinity. Moreover, variability among recovering plots at a site was high, and correlated with recovery rate. This last insight led us into the world of "variance ecology", which ended up being the focus of the GCE V proposal.

At the same time, because this experiment was unplanned, the design wasn't perfect. One of the disturbance experiments that we started during GCE IV was designed to do a better job, primarily by having much higher replication of sites along the salinity gradient. That experiment is underway, and we look forward to our first set of results this coming summer.



Following succession in one of the cleared plots

Setting up the follow-up experiment

(Contact Steve Pennings for additional information)

submitted Jan 26, 2024


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.