Changes in arthropod communities as black mangroves Avicennia germinans expand into Gulf of Mexico salt marshes
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Climate change is driving poleward shifts in species distributions worldwide. In the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), warming temperatures foster black mangrove (Avicennia germinans L.) expansion into GOM wetlands replacing wetland plants including Spartina alterniflora Loisel, Salicornia depressa L., and Batis maritima L. We investigated insect community assemblages in wetlands with and without A. germinans to assess potential effects of A. germinans expansion on insect fauna. Insect abundance, biomass, richness, diversity, community structure, and feeding guild composition were measured in both the spring and the fall across three levels of A. germinans abundance. Insect abundance and biomass were larger in both the spring and the fall in wetlands where A. germinans abundance was low. Significant differences in community structure were associated with the presence of A. germinans. Feeding guild composition was also different in wetlands containing A. germinans, having less predator biomass. Shifting vegetation caused by climate change can alter insect communities in coastal wetlands, illustrating the need for a more comprehensive understanding of climate change effects on fauna in response to shifting foundation plant species.
KeywordsClimate change Vegetation shift Insect Community change
Funding was provided by the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station agreements 12-DG-11330101-096 and 13-CA-11330140-116 to D.L. Smee. The NSF-MSP ETEAMS Grant #1321319 provided funding for boat time and their interns, E. Urban in particular, assisted in the field. Members of the Marine Ecology Lab, and C. Trettin, J. Arnold, and C. Stringer from USFS provided important assistance in the field. L. Patrick helped with mansucript formatting and proofreading. S. Bock was instrumental in writing and data analysis.
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