COS 50-3: Habitat connectivity: Seabird effects on insular intertidal communities in Bahía de los Angeles, Mexico
Drew M. Talley, San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Shara Fisler, Aquatic Adventures Science Education Foundation.
While there have been numerous elegant studies demonstrating the profound effects of ornithogenic (bird-derived) nutrients on terrestrial ecosystems in Bahía de los Angeles, Mexico, few of these have explored the interactive effects of seabirds, terrestrial geomorphology, and nearshore marine habitats. In this study, we examined how ornithogenic nutrients affect benthic intertidal ecosystems at two tidal elevations. High guano input to upper elevation intertidal areas increased biodiversity, tended to increase overall abundances, and had other taxa-specific effects. These effects were not evident at lower tidal elevations. These findings, coupled with stable isotope analyses, suggest that seabirds are important mediators of intertidal community structure, through bottom-up mechanisms, and have important consequences for ecology and conservation. Perhaps more importantly, this work was pursued through an extensive interaction between policy-makers, educators, and scientists, as part of a larger program to integrate underrepresented youth into the sciences. This small experiment provides a model demonstrating the benefits to education, policy, and science through forging these sorts of cross-sector collaborations