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Title: Unnatural hypoxic regimes

Abstract

Coastal hypoxia is increasing worldwide in response to human-caused changes in global climate and biogeochemical cycles. In this paper, we view anthropogenic trends in coastal hypoxia through the lens of disturbance ecology and complexity theory. Complexity theory provides a framework for describing how estuaries and other coastal aquatic ecosystems respond to hypoxia by understanding feedback loops. Can it also be valuable in understanding how these ecosystems behave under shifting (i.e., unnatural) disturbance regimes? When viewed as a disturbance regime, shifts in the spatial (areal extent and fragmentation) and temporal (frequency and duration of events) characteristics of coastal hypoxia can be used to track changes into a non-stationary future. Here, we consider options for increasing the resilience of coastal aquatic ecosystems to future, unnatural hypoxic regimes. To start, we define desirable states as ecosystems with long trophic chains and slow nutrient and carbon dynamics that produce many ecosystem services. We then work backward to describe circumstances dominated by positive feedbacks that can lead ecosystems toward an undesirable state (i.e., depauperate communities and chemically reduced sediments). Processes of degradation and recovery can be understood in the context of island biogeography whereby species diversity in habitats fragmented by hypoxia is determined by themore » balance between rapid local extinction, slow recolonization from the edges of hypoxic patches, and opportunities for ecological succession during between disturbance events. We review potential future changes associated with changing global climate and highlight ways to enhance coastal resilience. In addition to efforts to slow climate change, potential interventions include reduced nutrient and carbon loadings from rivers, restoration of aquatic vegetation, and managing for key species, including those that promote sediment oxygenation, that enhance water clarity, or that promote grazing on epiphytic algae through top-down control.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [4];  [5]
  1. Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Tennessee 37831 USA
  2. School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio 43210 USA
  3. Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Tennessee 37831 USA, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Dabney Hall, 1416 Circle Drive Knoxville Tennessee 37996 USA
  4. Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, J.A. Palménin tie 260 Hanko 10900 Finland
  5. Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, 2020 Horns Point Road Cambridge Maryland 21613 USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge, MD (United States); Univ. of Helsinki, Hanko (Finland)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (United States); Sophie von Julin Foundation (Finland); European Union (EU); Academy of Finland
OSTI Identifier:
1469245
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1469246; OSTI ID: 1474665
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725; NA16NOS4780204
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Ecosphere
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Ecosphere Journal Volume: 9 Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 2150-8925
Publisher:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; acidification; positive feedbacks; aquatic vegetation; trophic cascade; climate change disturbance; hypoxia; regime shift; resilience; thresholds; tipping points

Citation Formats

Jager, Henriette I., Novello, Rebecca C., Dale, Virginia H., Villnas, Anna, and Rose, Kenneth A. Unnatural hypoxic regimes. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1002/ecs2.2408.
Jager, Henriette I., Novello, Rebecca C., Dale, Virginia H., Villnas, Anna, & Rose, Kenneth A. Unnatural hypoxic regimes. United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.2408.
Jager, Henriette I., Novello, Rebecca C., Dale, Virginia H., Villnas, Anna, and Rose, Kenneth A. Mon . "Unnatural hypoxic regimes". United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.2408.
@article{osti_1469245,
title = {Unnatural hypoxic regimes},
author = {Jager, Henriette I. and Novello, Rebecca C. and Dale, Virginia H. and Villnas, Anna and Rose, Kenneth A.},
abstractNote = {Coastal hypoxia is increasing worldwide in response to human-caused changes in global climate and biogeochemical cycles. In this paper, we view anthropogenic trends in coastal hypoxia through the lens of disturbance ecology and complexity theory. Complexity theory provides a framework for describing how estuaries and other coastal aquatic ecosystems respond to hypoxia by understanding feedback loops. Can it also be valuable in understanding how these ecosystems behave under shifting (i.e., unnatural) disturbance regimes? When viewed as a disturbance regime, shifts in the spatial (areal extent and fragmentation) and temporal (frequency and duration of events) characteristics of coastal hypoxia can be used to track changes into a non-stationary future. Here, we consider options for increasing the resilience of coastal aquatic ecosystems to future, unnatural hypoxic regimes. To start, we define desirable states as ecosystems with long trophic chains and slow nutrient and carbon dynamics that produce many ecosystem services. We then work backward to describe circumstances dominated by positive feedbacks that can lead ecosystems toward an undesirable state (i.e., depauperate communities and chemically reduced sediments). Processes of degradation and recovery can be understood in the context of island biogeography whereby species diversity in habitats fragmented by hypoxia is determined by the balance between rapid local extinction, slow recolonization from the edges of hypoxic patches, and opportunities for ecological succession during between disturbance events. We review potential future changes associated with changing global climate and highlight ways to enhance coastal resilience. In addition to efforts to slow climate change, potential interventions include reduced nutrient and carbon loadings from rivers, restoration of aquatic vegetation, and managing for key species, including those that promote sediment oxygenation, that enhance water clarity, or that promote grazing on epiphytic algae through top-down control.},
doi = {10.1002/ecs2.2408},
journal = {Ecosphere},
number = 9,
volume = 9,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {9}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2408

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  • Journal of Coastal Research, Vol. 10055
  • DOI: 10.2112/SI55-003.1

Large, Infrequent Disturbances: Comparing Large, Infrequent Disturbances: What Have We Learned?
journal, November 1998