Llopiz Joel K.

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Joel K.

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  • Article
    Exploring interannual variability in potential spawning habitat for Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Slope Sea
    (Elsevier, 2021-01-17) Rypina, Irina I. ; Dotzel, Michael M. ; Pratt, Lawrence J. ; Hernandez, Christina M. ; Llopiz, Joel K.
    The Slope Sea in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, located between the Gulf Stream and the continental shelf of the Northeast United States, is a recently-documented possible major spawning ground for Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). Larval surveys and a habitat modeling study have shown that suitable spawning habitat occurs in the Slope Sea, but the degree to which this habitat varies interannually is an open question. Here, we perform a decade-long (2009–2018) numerical modeling analysis, with simulated larvae released uniformly throughout the Slope Sea, to investigate the interannual variability in the water temperature and circulation criteria deemed necessary for successful spawning. We also quantify the influence of Gulf Stream meanders and overshoot events on larval retention and their effect on habitat suitability rates throughout the Slope Sea, defined as the percentage of simulated larvae released at a given location that satisfy criteria related to water temperature and retention near nursery habitat. Average environmental oceanographic conditions over the decade are most favorable in the western part of the Slope Sea, specifically in the Slope Gyre and away from the immediate vicinity of the Gulf Stream. Variability in domain- and summertime-averaged yearly spawning habitat suitability rates is up to 25% of the mean decadal-averaged values. Yearly habitat suitability correlates strongly with the Gulf Stream overshoot but does not correlate well with other oceanographic variables or indices, so an overshoot index can be used as a sole oceanographic proxy for predicting yearly bluefin spawning habitat suitability in the Slope Sea. Selective spawning can weaken the correlation between habitat suitability and Gulf Stream overshoot. Effort should be put towards collecting observational data against which we could validate our findings.
  • Preprint
    Latitudinal and taxonomic patterns in the feeding ecologies of fish larvae : a literature synthesis
    ( 2012-03-20) Llopiz, Joel K.
    The longtime focus on factors that influence the survival of marine fish larvae has yielded an extensive number of studies on larval fish diets and feeding success. In light of a recent increase in such studies within lower latitudes, results from the peer-reviewed literature were synthesized to examine both latitudinal and taxonomic differences in several trophic-related categories, including feeding incidence, trophic niche breadth, ontogenetic diet shifts, dominant prey types, diet broadness, and larval piscivory. A total of 204 investigations (taxon-article combinations) contained suitable results for at least one of these categories. Feeding incidences (proportions of larvae containing food) were significantly higher in lower latitudes with all taxa combined, as well as only within the order Perciformes. Feeding incidences also differed among orders, with Perciformes and Scorpaeniformes having the highest values. The number of larval taxa exhibiting a significantly increasing niche breadth (SD of the log of prey sizes) with larval size decreased toward lower latitudes, with some taxa in lower latitudes exhibiting a decrease in niche breadth with size. The frequency of exhibiting ontogenetic diets shifts decreased with decreasing latitude, as did relative diet broadness (a function of prey types). The most common dominant prey types in the diets of higher latitude larvae were nauplii and calanoid copepods, with cyclopoids being rare in higher latitudes. Dominant prey types in lower latitudes were more diverse, with nauplii, calanoids, and cyclopoids being equally important. Appendicularians increased in importance with decreasing latitude, and one of the clearest latitudinal distinctions was the display of larval piscivory (almost exclusively by scombroid taxa), which was highly concentrated in lower latitudes. Overall, the latitudinal differences observed for multiple trophic related factors highlight inherent distinctions in larval fish feeding ecologies, likely reflecting differences in the overall structure of planktonic food webs over large latitudinal gradients.
  • Preprint
    Does fish larval dispersal differ between high and low latitudes?
    ( 2013-02) Leis, Jeffrey M. ; Caselle, Jennifer E. ; Bradbury, Ian R. ; Kristiansen, Trond ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Miller, Michael J. ; O'Connor, Mary I. ; Paris, Claire B. ; Shanks, Alan L. ; Sogard, Susan M. ; Swearer, Stephen E. ; Treml, Eric A. ; Vetter, Russell D. ; Warner, Robert R.
    Several factors lead to expectations that the scale of larval dispersal and population connectivity of marine animals differs with latitude. We examine this expectation for demersal shorefishes, including relevant mechanisms, assumptions, and evidence. We explore latitudinal differences in: 1) biological (e.g., species composition, spawning mode, pelagic larval duration (PLD)), 2) physical (e.g., water movement, habitat fragmentation), and 3) biophysical factors (primarily temperature, which could strongly affect development, swimming ability, or feeding). Latitudinal differences exist in taxonomic composition, habitat fragmentation, temperature, and larval swimming, and each could influence larval dispersal. Nevertheless, clear evidence for latitudinal differences in larval dispersal at the level of broad faunas is lacking. For example, PLD is strongly influenced by taxon, habitat, and geographic region, but no independent latitudinal trend is present in published PLD values. Any trends in larval dispersal may be obscured by a lack of appropriate information, or use of ‘off the shelf’ information that is biased with regard to the species assemblages in areas of concern. Biases may also be introduced from latitudinal differences in taxa or spawning modes, as well as limited latitudinal sampling. We suggest research to make progress on the question of latitudinal trends in larval dispersal.
  • Article
    Larval transport pathways from three prominent sand lance habitats in the Gulf of Maine
    (Wiley, 2022-03-15) Suca, Justin J. ; Ji, Rubao ; Baumann, Hannes ; Pham, Kent ; Silva, Tammy L. ; Wiley, David N. ; Feng, Zhixuan ; Llopiz, Joel K.
    Northern sand lance (Ammodytes dubius) are among the most critically important forage fish throughout the Northeast US shelf. Despite their ecological importance, little is known about the larval transport of this species. Here, we use otolith microstructure analysis to estimate hatch and settlement dates of sand lance and then use these measurements to parametrize particle tracking experiments to assess the source–sink dynamics of three prominent sand lance habitats in the Gulf of Maine: Stellwagen Bank, the Great South Channel, and Georges Bank. Our results indicate the pelagic larval duration of northern sand lance lasts about 2 months (range: 50–84 days) and exhibit a broad range of hatch and settlement dates. Forward and backward particle tracking experiments show substantial interannual variability, yet suggest transport generally follows the north to south circulation in the Gulf of Maine region. We find that Stellwagen Bank is a major source of larvae for the Great South Channel, while the Great South Channel primarily serves as a sink for larvae from Stellwagen Bank and Georges Bank. Retention is likely the primary source of larvae on Georges Bank. Retention within both Georges Bank and Stellwagen Bank varies interannually in response to changes in local wind events, while the Great South Channel only exhibited notable retention in a single year. Collectively, these results provide a framework to assess population connectivity among these sand lance habitats, which informs the species' recruitment dynamics and impacts its vulnerability to exploitation.
  • Article
    Early life history and fisheries oceanography : new questions in a changing world
    (The Oceanography Society, 2014-12) Llopiz, Joel K. ; Cowen, Robert K. ; Hauff, Martha J. ; Ji, Rubao ; Munday, Philip L. ; Muhling, Barbara A. ; Peck, Myron A. ; Richardson, David E. ; Sogard, Susan M. ; Sponaugle, Su
    In the past 100 years since the birth of fisheries oceanography, research on the early life history of fishes, particularly the larval stage, has been extensive, and much progress has been made in identifying the mechanisms by which factors such as feeding success, predation, or dispersal can influence larval survival. However, in recent years, the study of fish early life history has undergone a major and, arguably, necessary shift, resulting in a growing body of research aimed at understanding the consequences of climate change and other anthropogenically induced stressors. Here, we review these efforts, focusing on the ways in which fish early life stages are directly and indirectly affected by increasing temperature; increasing CO2 concentrations, and ocean acidification; spatial, temporal, and magnitude changes in secondary production and spawning; and the synergistic effects of fishing and climate change. We highlight how these and other factors affect not only larval survivorship, but also the dispersal of planktonic eggs and larvae, and thus the connectivity and replenishment of fish subpopulations. While much of this work is in its infancy and many consequences are speculative or entirely unknown, new modeling approaches are proving to be insightful by predicting how early life stage survival may change in the future and how such changes will impact economically and ecologically important fish populations.
  • Preprint
    Feeding dynamics of Northwest Atlantic small pelagic fishes
    ( 2018-04) Suca, Justin J. ; Pringle, Julie W. ; Knorek, Zofia R. ; Hamilton, Sara L. ; Richardson, David E. ; Llopiz, Joel K.
    Small pelagic fishes represent a critical link between zooplankton and large predators. Yet, the taxonomic resolution of the diets of these important fishes is often limited, especially in the Northwest Atlantic. We examined the diets, along with stable isotope signatures, of five dominant small pelagic species of the Northeast US continental shelf ecosystem (Atlantic mackerel Scomber scombrus, Atlantic herring Clupea harengus, alewife Alosa pseudoharengus, blueback herring Alosa aestivalis, and Atlantic butterfish Peprilus triacanthus). Diet analyses revealed strong seasonal differences in most species. Small pelagic fishes predominantly consumed Calanus copepods, small copepod genera (Pseudocalanus/Paracalanus/Clausocalanus), and Centropages copepods in the spring, with appendicularians also important by number for most species. Krill, primarily Meganyctiphanes norvegica, and hyperiid amphipods of the genera Hyperia and Parathemisto were common in the stomach contents of four of the five species in the fall, with hyperiids common in the stomach contents of butterfish in both seasons and krill common in the stomach contents of alewife in both seasons. Depth and region were also found to be sources of variability in the diets of Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic herring, and alewife (region but not depth) with krill being more often in the diet of alewife in more northerly locations, primarily the Gulf of Maine. Stable isotope data corroborate the seasonal differences in diet but overlap of isotopic niche space contrasts that of dietary overlap, highlighting the differences in the two methods. Overall, the seasonal variability and consumer-specific diets of small pelagic fishes are important for understanding how changes in the zooplankton community could influence higher trophic levels.
  • Article
    Support for the Slope Sea as a major spawning ground for Atlantic bluefin tuna: evidence from larval abundance, growth rates, and particle-tracking simulations
    (Canadian Science Publishing, 2021-10-20) Hernández, Christina M. ; Richardson, David E. ; Rypina, Irina I. ; Chen, Ke ; Marancik, Katrin E. ; Shulzitsk, Kathryn ; Llopiz, Joel K.
    Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) are commercially and ecologically valuable, but management is complicated by their highly migratory lifestyle. Recent collections of bluefin tuna larvae in the Slope Sea off northeastern United States have opened questions about how this region contributes to population dynamics. We analyzed larvae collected in the Slope Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in 2016 to estimate larval abundance and growth rates and used a high-resolution regional ocean circulation model to estimate spawning locations and larval transport. We did not detect a regional difference in growth rates, but found that Slope Sea larvae were larger than Gulf of Mexico larvae prior to exogenous feeding. Slope Sea larvae generally backtracked to locations north of Cape Hatteras and would have been retained within the Slope Sea until the early juvenile stage. Overall, our results provide supporting evidence that the Slope Sea is a major spawning ground that is likely to be important for population dynamics. Further study of larvae and spawning adults in the region should be prioritized to support management decisions.
  • Article
    Environmental drivers and trends in forage fish occupancy of the Northeast US shelf
    (Oxford University Press, 2021-11-02) Suca, Justin J. ; Deroba, Jonathan J. ; Richardson, David E. ; Ji, Rubao ; Llopiz, Joel K.
    The Northeast US shelf ecosystem is undergoing unprecedented changes due to long-term warming trends and shifts in regional hydrography leading to changes in community composition. However, it remains uncertain how shelf occupancy by the region's dominant, offshore small pelagic fishes, also known as forage fishes, has changed throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Here, we use species distribution models to estimate the change in shelf occupancy, mean weighted latitude, and mean weighted depth of six forage fishes on the Northeast US shelf, and whether those trends were linked to coincident hydrographic conditions. Our results suggest that observed shelf occupancy is increasing or unchanging for most species in both spring and fall, linked both to gear shifts and increasing bottom temperature and salinity. Exceptions include decreases to observed shelf occupancy by sand lance and decreases to Atlantic herring's inferred habitat suitability in the fall. Our work shows that changes in shelf occupancy and inferred habitat suitability have varying coherence, indicating complex mechanisms behind observed shelf occupancy for many species. Future work and management can use these results to better isolate the aspects of forage fish life histories that are important for determining their occupancy of the Northeast US shelf.
  • Article
    Sensitivity of sand lance to shifting prey and hydrography indicates forthcoming change to the northeast US shelf forage fish complex
    (Oxford University Press, 2021-01-26) Suca, Justin J. ; Wiley, David N. ; Silva, Tammy L. ; Robuck, Anna R. ; Richardson, David E. ; Glancy, Sarah G. ; Clancey, Emily ; Giandonato, Teresa ; Solow, Andrew R. ; Thompson, Michael A. ; Hong, Peter ; Baumann, Hannes ; Kaufman, Les ; Llopiz, Joel K.
    Northern sand lance (Ammodytes dubius) and Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) represent the dominant lipid-rich forage fish species throughout the Northeast US shelf and are critical prey for numerous top predators. However, unlike Atlantic herring, there is little research on sand lance or information about drivers of their abundance. We use intra-annual measurements of sand lance diet, growth, and condition to explain annual variability in sand lance abundance on the Northeast US Shelf. Our observations indicate that northern sand lance feed, grow, and accumulate lipids in the late winter through summer, predominantly consuming the copepod Calanus finmarchicus. Sand lance then cease feeding, utilize lipids, and begin gonad development in the fall. We show that the abundance of C. finmarchicus influences sand lance parental condition and recruitment. Atlantic herring can mute this effect through intra-guild predation. Hydrography further impacts sand lance abundance as increases in warm slope water decrease overwinter survival of reproductive adults. The predicted changes to these drivers indicate that sand lance will no longer be able to fill the role of lipid-rich forage during times of low Atlantic herring abundance—changing the Northeast US shelf forage fish complex by the end of the century.
  • Preprint
    Trophic ecology of barrelfish (Hyperoglyphe perciformis) in oceanic waters of southeast Florida
    ( 2017-09) Suca, Justin J. ; Llopiz, Joel K.
    Deep-water demersal fishes represent an understudied but ecologically important group of organisms. Select species of demersal fishes rely on pelagic prey items, representing a direct transport of surface carbon to greater depths. Barrelfish Hyperoglyphe perciformis (Mitchell, 1818), which inhabit deep slope waters, are a species that has been suggested to fill this role, as congeners consume primarily pelagic gelatinous zooplankton; however, there is a dearth of information on the trophic ecology of barrelfish. Stomach content and stable isotope analyses were conducted on barrelfish caught by recreational fishers off Miami, Florida to improve our understanding of the feeding of this species. Pyrosoma atlanticum (Péron, 1804), a pelagic, vertically migrating tunicate, represented 89% of the barrelfish diet by weight. Mesopelagic fish and shrimp contributed much smaller proportions. Standard ellipse areas corrected for sample size (SEAc) showed a substantially smaller isotopic niche width for barrelfish (0.606 ‰2) than dolphinfish (2.16 ‰2), king mackerel (3.04 ‰2), or wahoo (1.97 ‰2). Coupled with dependence on a singular prey item, the low SEAc of barrelfish suggests they occupy a limited trophic niche space. Overlap of barrelfish SEAc with dolphinfish (99.5% overlap) and king mackerel (100% overlap) indicate that the carbon sources as well as the number of trophic steps for barrelfish are similar to king mackerel and dolphinfish and are linked to surface waters. This trophic linkage suggests that barrelfish may play a role in carbon export and further study into their behavior and daily consumption rates is warranted for quantifying this role.
  • Article
    High collocation of sand lance and protected top predators: implications for conservation and management
    (Wiley Open Access, 2020-10-06) Silva, Tammy L. ; Wiley, David N. ; Thompson, Michael A. ; Hong, Peter ; Kaufman, Les ; Suca, Justin J. ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Baumann, Hannes ; Fay, Gavin
    Spatial relationships between predators and prey provide critical information for understanding and predicting climate‐induced shifts in ecosystem dynamics and mitigating human impacts. We used Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary as a case study to investigate spatial overlap among sand lance (Ammodytes dubius), a key forage fish species, and two protected predators: humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and great shearwaters (Ardenna gravis). We conducted 6 years (2013–2018) of standardized surveys and quantified spatial overlap using the global index of collocation. Results showed strong, consistent collocation among species across seasons and years, suggesting that humpback whales and great shearwater distributions are tightly linked to sand lance. We propose that identifying sand lance habitats may indicate areas where humpbacks and shearwaters aggregate and are particularly vulnerable to human activities. Understanding how sand lance influence predator distributions can inform species protection and sanctuary management under present and future scenarios.
  • Article
    Twilight zone observation network: a distributed observation network for sustained, real-time interrogation of the ocean’s twilight zone
    (Marine Technology Society, 2021-05-01) Thorrold, Simon R. ; Adams, Allan ; Bucklin, Ann ; Buesseler, Ken O. ; Fischer, Godi ; Govindarajan, Annette F. ; Hoagland, Porter ; Di, Jin ; Lavery, Andone C. ; Llopez, Joel ; Madin, Laurence P. ; Omand, Melissa M. ; Renaud, Philip ; Sosik, Heidi M. ; Wiebe, Peter ; Yoerger, Dana R. ; Zhang, Weifeng G.
    The ocean's twilight zone (TZ) is a vast, globe-spanning region of the ocean. Home to myriad fishes and invertebrates, mid-water fishes alone may constitute 10 times more biomass than all current ocean wild-caught fisheries combined. Life in the TZ supports ocean food webs and plays a critical role in carbon capture and sequestration. Yet the ecological roles that mesopelagic animals play in the ocean remain enigmatic. This knowledge gap has stymied efforts to determine the effects that extraction of mesopelagic biomass by industrial fisheries, or alterations due to climate shifts, may have on ecosystem services provided by the open ocean. We propose to develop a scalable, distributed observation network to provide sustained interrogation of the TZ in the northwest Atlantic. The network will leverage a “tool-chest” of emerging and enabling technologies including autonomous, unmanned surface and underwater vehicles and swarms of low-cost “smart” floats. Connectivity among in-water assets will allow rapid assimilation of data streams to inform adaptive sampling efforts. The TZ observation network will demonstrate a bold new step towards the goal of continuously observing vast regions of the deep ocean, significantly improving TZ biomass estimates and understanding of the TZ's role in supporting ocean food webs and sequestering carbon.
  • Article
    Soundscapes influence the settlement of the common caribbean coral porites astreoides irrespective of light conditions
    (Royal Society, 2018-12-12) Lillis, Ashlee ; Apprill, Amy ; Suca, Justin J. ; Becker, Cynthia ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Mooney, T. Aran
    The settlement of reef-building corals is critical to the survival and recovery of reefs. Recent evidence indicates that coral larvae orient towards reef sound, yet the components of the acoustic environment that may attract coral larvae and induce settlement are unknown. Here we investigated the effects of ambient soundscapes on settlement of Porites astreoides coral larvae using in situ chambers on reefs differing in habitat quality (coral and fish abundance). Mean larval settlement was twice as high in an acoustic environment with high levels of low-frequency sounds, typical of a high-quality, healthy reef; this result was observed in both natural light and dark treatments. Overall, the enhancement of coral settlement by soundscapes typical of healthy reefs suggests a positive feedback where soundscape properties of reefs with elevated coral and fish abundance may facilitate coral recruitment.
  • Article
    Evidence and patterns of tuna spawning inside a large no-take marine protected area
    (Nature Research, 2019-07-24) Hernández, Christina M. ; Witting, Jan H. ; Willis, Claire ; Thorrold, Simon R. ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Rotjan, Randi
    The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, represents 11% of the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Kiribati, which earns much of its GDP by selling tuna fishing licenses to foreign nations. We have determined that PIPA is a spawning area for skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), bigeye (Thunnus obesus), and yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) tunas. Our approach included sampling larvae on cruises in 2015–2017 and using a biological-physical model to estimate spawning locations for collected larvae. Temperature and chlorophyll conditions varied markedly due to observed ENSO states: El Niño (2015) and neutral (2016–2017). However, larval tuna distributions were similar amongst years. Generally, skipjack larvae were patchy and more abundant near PIPA’s northeast corner, while Thunnus larvae exhibited lower and more even abundances. Genetic barcoding confirmed the presence of bigeye (Thunnus obesus) and yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) tuna larvae. Model simulations indicated that most of the larvae collected inside PIPA in 2015 were spawned inside, while stronger currents in 2016 moved more larvae across PIPA’s boundaries. Larval distributions and relative spawning output simulations indicated that both focal taxa spawned inside PIPA in all 3 study years, demonstrating that PIPA is protecting viable tuna spawning habitat.
  • Preprint
    Multiscale spatio-temporal patterns of boat noise on U.S. Virgin Island coral reefs
    ( 2018-09) Dinh, Jason P. ; Suca, Justin J. ; Lillis, Ashlee ; Apprill, Amy ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Mooney, T. Aran
    Sound-sensitive organisms are abundant on coral reefs. Accordingly, experiments suggest that boat noise could elicit adverse effects on coral reef organisms. Yet, there are few data quantifying boat noise prevalence on coral reefs. We use long-term passive acoustic recordings at nine coral reefs and one sandy comparison site in a marine protected area to quantify spatio-temporal variation in boat noise and its effect on the soundscape. Boat noise was most common at reefs with high coral cover and fish density, and temporal patterns reflected patterns of human activity. Boat noise significantly increased low-frequency sound levels at the monitored sites. With boat noise present, the peak frequencies of the natural soundscape shifted from higher frequencies to the lower frequencies frequently used in fish communication. Taken together, the spectral overlap between boat noise and fish communication and the elevated boat detections on reefs with biological densities raises concern for coral reef organisms.
  • Article
    Exploring the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect animal taxa in the Mesopelagic Zone
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-03-15) Govindarajan, Annette F. ; Francolini, Rene D. ; Jech, J. Michael ; Lavery, Andone C. ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Wiebe, Peter ; Zhang, Weifeng Gordon
    Animal biodiversity in the ocean’s vast mesopelagic zone is relatively poorly studied due to technological and logistical challenges. Environmental DNA (eDNA) analyses show great promise for efficiently characterizing biodiversity and could provide new insight into the presence of mesopelagic species, including those that are missed by traditional net sampling. Here, we explore the utility of eDNA for identifying animal taxa. We describe the results from an August 2018 cruise in Slope Water off the northeast United States. Samples for eDNA analysis were collected using Niskin bottles during five CTD casts. Sampling depths along each cast were selected based on the presence of biomass as indicated by the shipboard Simrad EK60 echosounder. Metabarcoding of the 18S V9 gene region was used to assess taxonomic diversity. eDNA metabarcoding results were compared with those from net-collected (MOCNESS) plankton samples. We found that the MOCNESS sampling recovered more animal taxa, but the number of taxa detected per liter of water sampled was significantly higher in the eDNA samples. eDNA was especially useful for detecting delicate gelatinous animals which are undersampled by nets. We also detected eDNA changes in community composition with depth, but not with sample collection time (day vs. night). We provide recommendations for applying eDNA-based methods in the mesopelagic including the need for studies enabling interpretation of eDNA signals and improvement of barcode reference databases.
  • Article
    A decade of incorporating social sciences in the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research Project (IMBeR): much done, much to do?
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-06-21) van Putten, Ingrid ; Kelly, Rachel ; Cavanagh, Rachel D. ; Murphy, Eugene J. ; Breckwoldt, Annette ; Brodie, Stephanie ; Cvitanovic, Christopher ; Dickey-Collas, Mark ; Maddison, Lisa ; Melbourne-Thomas, Jessica ; Arrizabalaga, Haritz ; Azetsu-Scott, Kumiko ; Beckley, Lynnath E. ; Bellerby, Richard G. J. ; Constable, Andrew ; Cowie, Greg ; Evans, Karen ; Glaser, Marion ; Hall, Julie A. ; Hobday, Alistair J. ; Johnston, Nadine M. ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Mueter, Franz ; Muller-Karger, Frank E. ; Weng, Kevin ; Wolf-Gladrow, Dieter A. ; Xavier, José C.
    Successful management and mitigation of marine challenges depends on cooperation and knowledge sharing which often occurs across culturally diverse geographic regions. Global ocean science collaboration is therefore essential for developing global solutions. Building effective global research networks that can enable collaboration also need to ensure inter- and transdisciplinary research approaches to tackle complex marine socio-ecological challenges. To understand the contribution of interdisciplinary global research networks to solving these complex challenges, we use the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research (IMBeR) project as a case study. We investigated the diversity and characteristics of 1,827 scientists from 11 global regions who were attendees at different IMBeR global science engagement opportunities since 2009. We also determined the role of social science engagement in natural science based regional programmes (using key informants) and identified the potential for enhanced collaboration in the future. Event attendees were predominantly from western Europe, North America, and East Asia. But overall, in the global network, there was growing participation by females, students and early career researchers, and social scientists, thus assisting in moving toward interdisciplinarity in IMBeR research. The mainly natural science oriented regional programmes showed mixed success in engaging and collaborating with social scientists. This was mostly attributed to the largely natural science (i.e., biological, physical) goals and agendas of the programmes, and the lack of institutional support and push to initiate connections with social science. Recognising that social science research may not be relevant to all the aims and activities of all regional programmes, all researchers however, recognised the (potential) benefits of interdisciplinarity, which included broadening scientists’ understanding and perspectives, developing connections and interlinkages, and making science more useful. Pathways to achieve progress in regional programmes fell into four groups: specific funding, events to come together, within-programme-reflections, and social science champions. Future research programmes should have a strategic plan to be truly interdisciplinary, engaging natural and social sciences, as well as aiding early career professionals to actively engage in such programmes.
  • Article
    The role of sand lances (Ammodytes sp.) in the Northwest Atlantic ecosystem: a synthesis of current knowledge with implications for conservation and management
    (Wiley, 2020-03-20) Staudinger, Michelle D. ; Goyert, Holly ; Suca, Justin J. ; Coleman, Kaycee ; Welch, Linda ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Wiley, David N. ; Altman, Irit ; Applegate, Andew ; Auster, Peter J. ; Baumann, Hannes ; Beaty, Julia ; Boelke, Deirdre ; Kaufman, Les ; Loring, Pam ; Moxley, Jerry ; Paton, Suzanne ; Powers, Kevin D. ; Richardson, David E. ; Robbins, Jooke ; Runge, Jeffrey A. ; Smith, Brian ; Spiegel, Caleb ; Steinmetz, Halley
    The American sand lance (Ammodytes americanus, Ammodytidae) and the Northern sand lance (A. dubius, Ammodytidae) are small forage fishes that play an important functional role in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean (NWA). The NWA is a highly dynamic ecosystem currently facing increased risks from climate change, fishing and energy development. We need a better understanding of the biology, population dynamics and ecosystem role of Ammodytes to inform relevant management, climate adaptation and conservation efforts. To meet this need, we synthesized available data on the (a) life history, behaviour and distribution; (b) trophic ecology; (c) threats and vulnerabilities; and (d) ecosystem services role of Ammodytes in the NWA. Overall, 72 regional predators including 45 species of fishes, two squids, 16 seabirds and nine marine mammals were found to consume Ammodytes. Priority research needs identified during this effort include basic information on the patterns and drivers in abundance and distribution of Ammodytes, improved assessments of reproductive biology schedules and investigations of regional sensitivity and resilience to climate change, fishing and habitat disturbance. Food web studies are also needed to evaluate trophic linkages and to assess the consequences of inconsistent zooplankton prey and predator fields on energy flow within the NWA ecosystem. Synthesis results represent the first comprehensive assessment of Ammodytes in the NWA and are intended to inform new research and support regional ecosystem‐based management approaches.
  • Article
    Microbial and nutrient dynamics in mangrove, reef, and seagrass waters over tidal and diurnal time scales
    (Inter Research, 2020-10-08) Becker, Cynthia ; Weber, Laura ; Suca, Justin J. ; Llopiz, Joel K. ; Mooney, T. Aran ; Apprill, Amy
    In coral reefs and adjacent seagrass meadow and mangrove environments, short temporal scales (i.e. tidal, diurnal) may have important influences on ecosystem processes and community structure, but these scales are rarely investigated. This study examines how tidal and diurnal forcings influence pelagic microorganisms and nutrient dynamics in 3 important and adjacent coastal biomes: mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. We sampled for microbial (Bacteria and Archaea) community composition, cell abundances and environmental parameters at 9 coastal sites on St. John, US Virgin Islands that spanned 4 km in distance (4 coral reefs, 2 seagrass meadows and 3 mangrove locations within 2 larger bays). Eight samplings occurred over a 48 h period, capturing day and night microbial dynamics over 2 tidal cycles. The seagrass and reef biomes exhibited relatively consistent environmental conditions and microbial community structure but were dominated by shifts in picocyanobacterial abundances that were most likely attributed to diel dynamics. In contrast, mangrove ecosystems exhibited substantial daily shifts in environmental parameters, heterotrophic cell abundances and microbial community structure that were consistent with the tidal cycle. Differential abundance analysis of mangrove-associated microorganisms revealed enrichment of pelagic oligotrophic taxa during high tide and enrichment of putative sediment-associated microbes during low tide. Our study underpins the importance of tidal and diurnal time scales in structuring coastal microbial and nutrient dynamics, with diel and tidal cycles contributing to a highly dynamic microbial environment in mangroves, and time of day likely contributing to microbial dynamics in seagrass and reef biomes.
  • Article
    Advances in environmental DNA sampling for Observing Ocean Twilight Zone animal diversity
    (Oceanography Society, 2023-01-19) Govindarajan, Annette F. ; Adams, Allan ; Allan, Elizabeth ; Herrera, Santiago ; Lavery, Andone ; Llopiz, Joel ; McCartin, Luke ; Yoerger, Dana R. ; Zhang, Weifeng
    The ocean’s vast twilight, or mesopelagic, zone (200–1,000 m depth) harbors immense biomass consisting of myriad poorly known and unique animal species whose quantity and diversity are likely considerably underestimated. As they facilitate the movement of carbon from surface waters to the deep sea through feeding and migratory behaviors, ocean twilight zone (OTZ) animals are vital to regulating Earth’s climate (Ducklow et al., 2001). However, anthropogenic threats, such as climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and overfishing pose an imminent threat to OTZ animals. Long-term spatially and temporally intensive observations are essential to our understanding of biodiversity in the OTZ, to resolving global carbon cycles, and to monitoring ocean health. Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis, which involves studying the trace genetic signatures of organisms (Figure 1), is a promising approach to filling this urgent need. eDNA can be sampled and diagnostic genetic markers (“barcodes”) can be sequenced in order to detect the animals inhabiting a given water parcel. Other laboratory protocols (e.g., quantitative PCR, or “qPCR” and “digital droplet PCR”) can be applied to facilitate quantitative assessments of specific target species (Eble et al., 2020). In seagoing oceanographic research, eDNA assessment is transitioning from being considered an experimental approach to becoming an established routine that can be scaled up to match ocean observing needs.