COS 75-5
The ZEN of seagrass ecology: Biodiversity, environment, and eelgrass ecosystem functioning on a planetary scale

Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 2:50 PM
L100F, Minneapolis Convention Center
Pamela L. Reynolds, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA
J. Emmett Duffy, Tennenbaum Marine Observatory Network, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Katharyn E. Boyer, Biology, Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, San Francisco State University, Tiburon, CA
Christoffer Bostrom, Åbo Akademi University, Åbo, Finland
James Coyer, Department of Marine Benthic Ecology and Evolution, University of Groningen
Mathieu Cusson, Department des sciences fondamentales, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada
James G. Douglass, Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA
Johan Eklof, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Aschwin Engelen, Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), Faro, Portugal
Britas Klemens Eriksson, Benthic Ecology, University of Groningen, Netherlands
Lars Gamfeldt, Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Masakazu Hori, Fisheries Research Agency, Japan
Kevin A. Hovel, Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory and Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Stein Fredriksen, University of Oslo, Norway
Katrin Iken, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK
Per-Olav Moksnes, Department of biological and environmental sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Masahiro Nakaoka, Hokkaido University, Japan
Mary I. O'Connor, Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Jeanine Olsen, Marine Benthic Ecology & Evolution (MarBEE), University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Jennifer L. Ruesink, Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Erik E. Sotka, Department of Biology and Grice Marine Laboratory, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
John J. Stachowicz, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Jonas Thormar, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Matthew A. Whalen, Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis, CA

Ecosystem processes are mediated by interactions between resource supply, consumer pressure, and community composition, with the balance shifting along environmental gradients. A frontier in basic and applied ecology is understanding how these multifarious processes interact, and organizing the complexity into predictive models. One promising way forward is the comparative-experimental approach, integrating standardized experiments with observational data. In the Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN, collaborators across 15 partner sites study the ecology of communities associated with eelgrass (Zostera marina), the most widespread marine plant and foundation of important but threatened coastal ecosystems throughout the northern hemisphere. In 2011, parallel field experiments factorially added nutrients and excluded crustacean mesograzers for four weeks, and measured community and ecosystem responses. 


Hierarchical mixed models documented unprecedented strong correlations of biodiversity, both eelgrass genotypic diversity and grazer species richness, with plant and grazer biomass and production even across global gradients in environmental factors. These results largely corroborate controlled, small-scale biodiversity experiments and suggest that impacts of biodiversity loss on ecosystems will be of comparable magnitude to those of other global change factors.