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      Predictors of specialist avifaunal decline in coastal marshes : Avian Decline in Tidal Marshes

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          Abstract

          Coastal marshes are one of the world's most productive ecosystems. Consequently, they have been heavily used by humans for centuries, resulting in ecosystem loss. Direct human modifications such as road crossings and ditches and climatic stressors such as sea-level rise and extreme storm events have the potential to further degrade the quantity and quality of marsh along coastlines. We used an 18-year marsh-bird database to generate population trends for 5 avian species (Rallus crepitans, Tringa semipalmata semipalmata, Ammodramus nelsonii subvirgatus, Ammodramus caudacutus, and Ammodramus maritimus) that breed almost exclusively in tidal marshes, and are potentially vulnerable to marsh degradation and loss as a result of anthropogenic change. We generated community and species trends across 3 spatial scales and explored possible drivers of the changes we observed, including marsh ditching, tidal restriction through road crossings, local rates of sea-level rise, and potential for extreme flooding events. The specialist community showed negative trends in tidally restricted marshes (-2.4% annually from 1998 to 2012) but was stable in unrestricted marshes across the same period. At the species level, we found negative population trends in 3 of the 5 specialist species, ranging from -4.2% to 9.0% annually. We suggest that tidal restriction may accelerate degradation of tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise by limiting sediment supply necessary for marsh accretion, resulting in specialist habitat loss in tidally restricted marshes. Based on our findings, we predict a collapse of the global population of Saltmarsh Sparrows (A. caudacutus) within the next 50 years and suggest that immediate conservation action is needed to prevent extinction of this species. We also suggest mitigation actions to restore sediment supply to coastal marshes to help sustain this ecosystem into the future.

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          Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Usinglme4

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            The impacts of climate change in coastal marine systems.

            Anthropogenically induced global climate change has profound implications for marine ecosystems and the economic and social systems that depend upon them. The relationship between temperature and individual performance is reasonably well understood, and much climate-related research has focused on potential shifts in distribution and abundance driven directly by temperature. However, recent work has revealed that both abiotic changes and biological responses in the ocean will be substantially more complex. For example, changes in ocean chemistry may be more important than changes in temperature for the performance and survival of many organisms. Ocean circulation, which drives larval transport, will also change, with important consequences for population dynamics. Furthermore, climatic impacts on one or a few 'leverage species' may result in sweeping community-level changes. Finally, synergistic effects between climate and other anthropogenic variables, particularly fishing pressure, will likely exacerbate climate-induced changes. Efforts to manage and conserve living marine systems in the face of climate change will require improvements to the existing predictive framework. Key directions for future research include identifying key demographic transitions that influence population dynamics, predicting changes in the community-level impacts of ecologically dominant species, incorporating populations' ability to evolve (adapt), and understanding the scales over which climate will change and living systems will respond.
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              Interactive effects of habitat modification and species invasion on native species decline.

              Different components of global environmental change are often studied and managed independently, but mounting evidence points towards complex non-additive interaction effects between drivers of native species decline. Using the example of interactions between land-use change and biotic exchange, we develop an interpretive framework that will enable global change researchers to identify and discriminate between major interaction pathways. We formalise a distinction between numerically mediated versus functionally moderated causal pathways. Despite superficial similarity of their effects, numerical and functional pathways stem from fundamentally different mechanisms of action and have fundamentally different consequences for conservation management. Our framework is a first step toward building a better quantitative understanding of how interactions between drivers might mitigate or exacerbate the net effects of global environmental change on biotic communities in the future.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Conservation Biology
                Conservation Biology
                Wiley
                08888892
                February 2017
                February 2017
                August 19 2016
                : 31
                : 1
                : 172-182
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Biology and Ecology and Climate Change Institute; University of Maine; Orono ME 04469 U.S.A.
                [2 ]Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology; University of Delaware; Newark, DE 19716 U.S.A.
                [3 ]Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Bangor ME 04401 U.S.A.
                [4 ]Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Center for Conservation and Biodiversity; University of Connecticut; Storrs, CT 06269 U.S.A.
                [5 ]Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge; United States Fish and Wildlife Service; Wells ME 04090 U.S.A.
                Article
                10.1111/cobi.12797
                27542096
                © 2016

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