Asch Rebecca G.
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PreprintThe colonial ascidian Didemnum sp. A: Current distribution, basic biology and potential threat to marine communities of the northeast and west coasts of North America( 2006-10-09) Bullard, Stephan G. ; Lambert, Gretchen ; Carman, Mary R. ; Byrnes, J. ; Whitlatch, R. B. ; Ruiz, G. ; Miller, R. J. ; Harris, L. ; Valentine, Page C. ; Collie, Jeremy S. ; Pederson, J. ; McNaught, D. C. ; Cohen, A. N. ; Asch, Rebecca G. ; Dijkstra, Jennifer A. ; Heinonen, K.Didemnum sp. A is a colonial ascidian with rapidly expanding populations on the east and west coasts of North America. The origin of Didemum sp. A is unknown. Populations were first observed on the northeast coast of the U.S. in the late 1980s and on the west coast during the 1990s. It is currently undergoing a massive population explosion and is now a dominant member of many subtidal communities on both coasts. To determine Didemnum sp. A’s current distribution, we conducted surveys from Maine to Virginia on the east coast and from British Columbia to southern California on the west coast of the U.S. between 1998 and 2005. In nearshore locations Didemnum sp. A currently ranges from Eastport, Maine to Shinnecock Bay, New York on the east coast. On the west coast it has been recorded from Humboldt Bay to Port San Luis in California, several sites in Puget Sound, Washington, including a heavily fouled mussel culture facility, and several sites in southwestern British Columbia on and adjacent to oyster and mussel farms. The species also occurs at deeper subtidal sites (up to 81 m) off New England, including Georges, Stellwagen and Tillies Banks. On Georges Bank numerous sites within a 147 km2 area are 50-90% covered by Didemnum sp. A; large colonies cement the pebble gravel into nearly solid mats that may smother infaunal organisms. These observations suggest that Didemnum sp. A has the potential to alter marine communities and affect economically important activities such as fishing and aquaculture.
ArticleSpring bloom dynamics and zooplankton biomass response on the US Northeast Continental Shelf(Elsevier, 2015-04-07) Friedland, Kevin D. ; Leaf, Robert T. ; Kane, Joe ; Tommasi, Desiree ; Asch, Rebecca G. ; Rebuck, Nathan D. ; Ji, Rubao ; Large, Scott I. ; Stock, Charles A. ; Saba, Vincent S.The spring phytoplankton bloom on the US Northeast Continental Shelf is a feature of the ecosystem production cycle that varies annually in timing, spatial extent, and magnitude. To quantify this variability, we analyzed remotely-sensed ocean color data at two spatial scales, one based on ecologically defined sub-units of the ecosystem (production units) and the other on a regular grid (0.5°). Five units were defined: Gulf of Maine East and West, Georges Bank, and Middle Atlantic Bight North and South. The units averaged 47×103 km2 in size. The initiation and termination of the spring bloom were determined using change-point analysis with constraints on what was identified as a bloom based on climatological bloom patterns. A discrete spring bloom was detected in most years over much of the western Gulf of Maine production unit. However, bloom frequency declined in the eastern Gulf of Maine and transitioned to frequencies as low as 50% along the southern flank of the Georges Bank production unit. Detectable spring blooms were episodic in the Middle Atlantic Bight production units. In the western Gulf of Maine, bloom duration was inversely related to bloom start day; thus, early blooms tended to be longer lasting and larger magnitude blooms. We view this as a phenological mismatch between bloom timing and the “top-down” grazing pressure that terminates a bloom. Estimates of secondary production were available from plankton surveys that provided spring indices of zooplankton biovolume. Winter chlorophyll biomass had little effect on spring zooplankton biovolume, whereas spring chlorophyll biomass had mixed effects on biovolume. There was evidence of a “bottom up” response seen on Georges Bank where spring zooplankton biovolume was positively correlated with the concentration of chlorophyll. However, in the western Gulf of Maine, biovolume was uncorrelated with chlorophyll concentration, but was positively correlated with bloom start and negatively correlated with magnitude. This observation is consistent with both a “top-down” mechanism of control of the bloom and a “bottom-up” effect of bloom timing on zooplankton grazing. Our inability to form a consistent model of these relationships across adjacent systems underscores the need for further research.