Meyer Kirstin S.

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Kirstin S.

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  • Preprint
    Desperate planktotrophs : decreased settlement selectivity with age in competent eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica larvae
    ( 2018-07) Meyer, Kirstin S. ; Wheeler, Jeanette D. ; Houlihan, Erin ; Mullineaux, Lauren S.
    For larvae of benthic marine invertebrate species, settlement from planktonic to benthic life is a critical transition. The “desperate larva” concept describes the tendency of larvae to accept suboptimal settlement habitats as they age. We quantified swimming behavior in planktotrophic larvae of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, to determine whether settlement behaviors, such as swimming downward and remaining on the bottom, increased with age and whether these ontogenetic changes were more apparent in larvae exposed to suboptimal conditions than to preferred conditions (settlement cue absent or present, respectively). In two experiments, the proportion of competent larvae remaining near the bottom of experimental flasks (indicating settlement) increased with larval age, but only in larvae that were not exposed to the settlement cue. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that larvae encountering suboptimal habitat become “desperate” (i.e. more likely to settle) as they age. Exploratory behaviors, such as upward swimming, meandering, or helices, were expected to decrease with age, especially in the absence of the settlement cue, but this pattern was detected in only one of the five swimming metrics tested (helices in downward swimming larvae). Surprisingly, pre-competent larvae exhibited settlement behavior when exposed to the cue, raising the question of whether a response at this stage would have positive or negative consequences. Acceptance of suboptimal settlement habitats by aging larvae may increase the resilience of a species by allowing populations to persist in variable environmental conditions.
  • Preprint
    Invertebrate communities on historical shipwrecks in the western Atlantic : relation to islands
    ( 2017-02) Meyer, Kirstin S. ; Brooke, Sandra ; Sweetman, Andrew K. ; Wolf, Maya ; Young, Craig M.
    Shipwrecks can be considered island-like habitats on the seafloor. We investigated the fauna of eight historical shipwrecks off the east coast of the U.S. to assess whether species distribution patterns on the shipwrecks fit models from classical island theory. Invertebrates on the shipwrecks included both sessile (sponges, anemones, hydroids) and motile (crustaceans, echinoderms) species. Invertebrate communities were significantly different among wrecks. The size and distance between wrecks influenced the biotic communities, much like on terrestrial islands. However, while wreck size influenced species richness (alpha diversity), distance to the nearest wreck influenced community composition (beta diversity). Alpha and beta diversity on the shipwrecks were thus influenced by different abiotic factors. We found no evidence of either nested patterns or non-random co-occurrence of morphotypes, suggesting that the taxa on a given shipwreck were randomly selected from the available taxon pool. Species present on the shipwrecks generally had one of two reproductive modes: most motile or solitary sessile species had long-duration planktotrophic larvae, while most encrusting or colonial sessile species had short-duration lecithotrophic larvae and underwent asexual reproduction by budding as adults. Short-duration larvae may recruit to their natal shipwreck, allowing them to build up dense populations and dominate the wreck surfaces. A high degree of dominance was indeed observed on the wrecks, with up to 80% of the fauna being accounted for by the most common species alone. By comparing the shipwreck communities to known patterns of succession in shallow water, we hypothesize that the shipwrecks are in a stage of mid-succession.
  • Preprint
    Oceanographic and biological influences on recruitment of benthic invertebrates to hard substrata on the Oregon shelf
    ( 2018-04) Meyer, Kirstin S. ; Li, Yizhen ; Young, Craig M.
    The number of anthropogenic substrata in the ocean – structures like oil rigs and offshore renewable energy generators – is increasing. These structures provide hard-bottom habitat in areas previously dominated by sand or mud, so they have the potential to alter species distributions or serve as “stepping-stones” between other hard-bottom habitats. It is thus important to understand what factors influence the composition and abundance of benthic fauna recruiting at these sites. We examined recruitment to hard substrata (fouling panels) deployed on sand at various distances from a large rocky reef (~60 m isobath) on the southern Oregon coast in 2014 – 2015. Recruitment was dominated by the acorn barnacle Hesperibalanus hesperius. For the majority of the study period in 2014, an anti-cyclonic eddy was present near the deployment sites. However, anomalously high recruitment of H. hesperius during August – early October 2014 coincided with dissipation of the eddy, slower bottom currents, and a positive convergence index, suggesting that H. hesperius larvae from the adjacent area may have been accumulated and retained near our study sites. Other sessile species, including hydroids and bryozoans, recruited to the fouling panels in low abundances, and most of these species have long-range dispersal and fast growth. Mobile invertebrates observed on the fouling panels included gastropods and nudibranchs, most of which also have long-range dispersal and fast growth, and are predators as adults. Thus, a community with two trophic levels assembled on the fouling panels in a relatively short time period (<12 weeks). None of the common hard-bottom species from the adjacent rocky reef recruited to the panels, suggesting that there is a specialized assemblage of species that can exploit hard-bottom habitats surrounded by sandy plains. Our results raise many questions about the influences of dispersal and oceanographic conditions on recruitment to hard substrata.
  • Article
    Major impacts of climate change on deep-sea benthic ecosystems
    (University of California Press, 2017-02-23) Sweetman, Andrew K. ; Thurber, Andrew R. ; Smith, Craig R. ; Levin, Lisa A. ; Mora, Camilo ; Wei, Chih-Lin ; Gooday, Andrew J. ; Jones, Daniel O. B. ; Rex, Michael ; Yasuhara, Moriaki ; Ingels, Jeroen ; Ruhl, Henry A. ; Frieder, Christina A. ; Danovaro, Roberto ; Würzberg, Laura ; Baco, Amy R. ; Grupe, Benjamin ; Pasulka, Alexis ; Meyer, Kirstin S. ; Dunlop, Katherine Mary ; Henry, Lea-Anne ; Roberts, J. Murray
    The deep sea encompasses the largest ecosystems on Earth. Although poorly known, deep seafloor ecosystems provide services that are vitally important to the entire ocean and biosphere. Rising atmospheric greenhouse gases are bringing about significant changes in the environmental properties of the ocean realm in terms of water column oxygenation, temperature, pH and food supply, with concomitant impacts on deep-sea ecosystems. Projections suggest that abyssal (3000–6000 m) ocean temperatures could increase by 1°C over the next 84 years, while abyssal seafloor habitats under areas of deep-water formation may experience reductions in water column oxygen concentrations by as much as 0.03 mL L–1 by 2100. Bathyal depths (200–3000 m) worldwide will undergo the most significant reductions in pH in all oceans by the year 2100 (0.29 to 0.37 pH units). O2 concentrations will also decline in the bathyal NE Pacific and Southern Oceans, with losses up to 3.7% or more, especially at intermediate depths. Another important environmental parameter, the flux of particulate organic matter to the seafloor, is likely to decline significantly in most oceans, most notably in the abyssal and bathyal Indian Ocean where it is predicted to decrease by 40–55% by the end of the century. Unfortunately, how these major changes will affect deep-seafloor ecosystems is, in some cases, very poorly understood. In this paper, we provide a detailed overview of the impacts of these changing environmental parameters on deep-seafloor ecosystems that will most likely be seen by 2100 in continental margin, abyssal and polar settings. We also consider how these changes may combine with other anthropogenic stressors (e.g., fishing, mineral mining, oil and gas extraction) to further impact deep-seafloor ecosystems and discuss the possible societal implications.