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Poulos H.M.,Wesleyan University | Chernoff B.,Wesleyan University | Fuller P.L.,Southeast Ecological Science Center
Aquatic Invasions | Year: 2012

Aquatic invasive species pose major ecological and economic threats to aquatic ecosystems worldwide via displacement, predation, or hybridization with native species and the alteration of aquatic habitats and hydrologic cycles. Modeling the habitat suitability of alien aquatic species through spatially explicit mapping is an increasingly important risk assessment tool. Habitat modeling also facilitates identification of key environmental variables influencing invasive species distributions. We compared four modeling methods to predict the potential continental United States distributions of northern snakehead Channa argus (Cantor, 1842), round goby Neogobius melanostomus (Pallas, 1814), and silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Valenciennes, 1844) using maximum entropy (Maxent), the genetic algorithm for rule set production (GARP), DOMAIN, and support vector machines (SVM). We used inventory records from the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database and a geographic information system of 20 climatic and environmental variables to generate individual and ensemble distribution maps for each species. The ensemble maps from our study performed as well as or better than all of the individual models except Maxent. The ensemble and Maxent models produced significantly higher accuracy individual maps than GARP, one-class SVMs, or DOMAIN. The key environmental predictor variables in the individual models were consistent with the tolerances of each species. Results from this study provide insights into which locations and environmental conditions may promote the future spread of invasive fish in the US. © 2012 The Author(s).


Johnson F.A.,Southeast Ecological Science Center | Walters M.A.H.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Walters M.A.H.,Oklahoma State University | Boomer G.S.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ecological Applications | Year: 2012

The take of Nearctic songbirds for the caged-bird trade is an important cultural and economic activity in Mexico, but its sustainability has been questioned. We relied on the theta-logistic population model to explore options for setting allowable levels of take for 11 species of passerines that were subject to legal take in Mexico in 2010. Because estimates of population size necessary for making periodic adjustments to levels of take are not routinely available, we examined the conditions under which a constant level of take might contribute to population depletion (i.e., a population below its level of maximum net productivity). The chance of depleting a population is highest when levels of take are based on population sizes that happen to be much lower or higher than the level of maximum net productivity, when environmental variation is relatively high and serially correlated, and when the interval between estimation of population size is relatively long (≥5 years). To estimate demographic rates of songbirds involved in the Mexican trade we relied on published information and allometric relationships to develop probability distributions for key rates, and then sampled from those distributions to characterize the uncertainty in potential levels of take. Estimates of the intrinsic rate of growth (r) were highly variable, but median estimates were consistent with those expected for relatively short-lived, highly fecund species. Allowing for the possibility of nonlinear density dependence generally resulted in allowable levels of take that were lower than would have been the case under an assumption of linearity. Levels of take authorized by the Mexican government in 2010 for the 11 species we examined were small in comparison to relatively conservative allowable levels of take (i.e., those intended to achieve 50% of maximum sustainable yield). However, the actual levels of take in Mexico are unknown and almost certainly exceed the authorized take. Also, the take of Nearctic songbirds in other Latin American and Caribbean countries ultimately must be considered in assessing population-level impacts. © 2012 by the Ecological Society of America.


Huge D.H.,Southeast Ecological Science Center | Huge D.H.,University of Florida | Schofield P.J.,Southeast Ecological Science Center | Jacoby C.A.,University of Florida | Frazer T.K.,University of Florida
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2014

Strategies to control invasive lionfish in the western Atlantic and Caribbean are likely to include harvest and consumption. Until this report, total mercury concentrations had been documented only for lionfish from Jamaica, and changes in concentrations with increasing fish size had not been evaluated. In the Florida Keys, total mercury concentrations in dorsal muscle tissue from 107 lionfish ranged from 0.03 to 0.48. ppm, with all concentrations being less than the regulatory threshold for limited consumption. Mercury concentrations did not vary consistently with standard lengths or wet weights of lionfish. In 2010, lionfish from the upper Keys had mean concentrations that were 0.03-0.04. ppm higher than lionfish from the middle Keys, but mean concentrations did not differ consistently among years and locations. Overall, total mercury concentrations in lionfish were lower than those in several predatory fishes that support commercial and recreational fisheries in Florida. © 2013.


Thompson K.A.,Oregon State University | Thompson K.A.,University of Florida | Hill J.E.,University of Florida | Nico L.G.,Southeast Ecological Science Center
Biological Invasions | Year: 2012

Florida is a hotspot for nonindigenous fishes with over 30 species established, although few of these are small-bodied species. One hypothesis for this pattern is that biotic resistance of native species is reducing the success of small-bodied, introduced fishes. The eastern mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki is common in many freshwater habitats in Florida and although small-bodied (<50 mm), it is a predator and aggressive competitor. We conducted four mesocosm experiments to examine the potential for biotic resistance by eastern mosquitofish to two small-bodied nonindigenous fishes, variable platyfish (Xiphophorus variatus) and swordtail (X. hellerii). Experiments tested: (1) effect of eastern mosquitofish density on adult survival, (2) effect of eastern mosquitofish on a stage-structured population, (3) role of habitat structural complexity on nonindigenous adult survival, and (4) behavioral effects of eastern mosquitofish presence and habitat complexity. Eastern mosquitofish attacked and killed non-native poeciliids with especially strong effects on juveniles of both species. Higher eastern mosquitofish density resulted in greater effects. Predation on swordtails increased with increasing habitat complexity. Eastern mosquitofish also actively drove swordtails from cover, which could expose non-native fish to other predators under field conditions. Our results suggest that eastern mosquitofish may limit invasion success. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


PubMed | University of Florida and Southeast Ecological Science Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Marine pollution bulletin | Year: 2014

Strategies to control invasive lionfish in the western Atlantic and Caribbean are likely to include harvest and consumption. Until this report, total mercury concentrations had been documented only for lionfish from Jamaica, and changes in concentrations with increasing fish size had not been evaluated. In the Florida Keys, total mercury concentrations in dorsal muscle tissue from 107 lionfish ranged from 0.03 to 0.48 ppm, with all concentrations being less than the regulatory threshold for limited consumption. Mercury concentrations did not vary consistently with standard lengths or wet weights of lionfish. In 2010, lionfish from the upper Keys had mean concentrations that were 0.03-0.04 ppm higher than lionfish from the middle Keys, but mean concentrations did not differ consistently among years and locations. Overall, total mercury concentrations in lionfish were lower than those in several predatory fishes that support commercial and recreational fisheries in Florida.


Hughey M.C.,Loyola University New Orleans | Hughey M.C.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Heins D.C.,Tulane University | Jelks H.L.,Southeast Ecological Science Center | And 2 more authors.
Copeia | Year: 2012

We examined the life history of Blackbanded Darters (Percina nigrofasciata) from two streams in the Choctawhatchee River drainage, Florida, over a three-year study period. Blackbanded Darters from Turkey Creek were longer than fish from Ten Mile Creek; however, size-adjusted clutch and egg sizes were similar between populations. Larger females produced larger clutches, whereas egg size did not vary with female body size. Seasonally, clutch sizes were greater in May than in August. When contrasted with previous studies of Blackbanded Darters in Alabama and Louisiana, the reproductive season of Blackbanded Darters in Florida was unusually long, ceasing for only a few months in late fall. The reproductive season was longer in Turkey Creek than in Ten Mile Creek. Differences in thermal regime among streams may explain differences in life history traits among local and distant populations of Blackbanded Darters. This research, alone and in combination with previous studies of this species, emphasizes two main points. First, it reaffirms that life history studies based on a single locality or conducted at a single point in time may fail to capture the full range of variation in life history traits. Second, it highlights the extensive phenotypic variation found in species with broad geographic ranges. Such species lend themselves to comparative and experimental research on patterns and causes of life history variation. © 2012 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.


Williams B.K.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Johnson F.A.,Southeast Ecological Science Center
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2015

Though the potential for information to measurably improve management has been highlighted for several decades, in recent years the "value of information" has surfaced with increasing frequency in natural resources. However, the use of this phrase belies the fact that many in natural resources have only a limited understanding about what it actually means, how to measure it, and what to do with it. We introduce and describe several forms of the value of information in a context of the management of renewable natural resources. The value of information is discussed in terms of a potential gain in value with the addition of new information, as well as a loss in value associated with the absence of information. Value metrics are developed for uncertainty about resource status as well as resource processes and responses to management. We provide a common notation for the metrics of value, and discuss linkages of the value of information to strategic approaches such as adaptive resources management and partially observable decision processes. Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. © 2015 The Wildlife Society.


Sullivan P.L.,Florida International University | Engel V.,Southeast Ecological Science Center | Ross M.S.,Florida International University | Price R.M.,Florida International University
Ecohydrology | Year: 2014

Transpiration-driven nutrient accumulation has been identified as a potential mechanism governing the creation and maintenance of wetland vegetation patterning. This process may contribute to the formation of nutrient-rich tree islands within the expansive oligotrophic marshes of the Everglades (Florida, United States). This study presents hydrogeochemical data indicating that tree root water uptake is a primary driver of groundwater ion accumulation across one of these islands. Sap flow, soil moisture, water level, water chemistry, and rainfall were measured to identify the relationships between climate, transpiration, and groundwater uptake by phreatophytes and to examine the effect this uptake has on groundwater chemistry and mineral formation in three woody plant communities of differing elevations. During the dry season, trees relied more on groundwater for transpiration, which led to a depressed water table and the advective movement of groundwater and dissolved ions, including phosphorus, from the surrounding marsh towards the centre of the island. Ion exclusion during root water uptake led to elevated concentrations of all major dissolved ions in the tree island groundwater compared with the adjacent marsh. Groundwater was predominately supersaturated with respect to aragonite and calcite in the lower-elevation woody communities, indicating the potential for soil formation. Elevated groundwater phosphorous concentrations detected in the highest-elevation woody community were associated with the leaching of inorganic sediments (i.e. hydroxyapatite) in the vadose zone. Understanding the complex feedback mechanisms regulating plant/groundwater/surface water interactions, nutrient dynamics, and potential soil formation is necessary to manage and restore patterned wetlands such as the Everglades. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Krebs J.M.,University of South Florida | Krebs J.M.,AKRF Inc. | McIvor C.C.,Southeast Ecological Science Center | Bell S.S.,University of South Florida
Estuaries and Coasts | Year: 2014

To assess the potential influence of coastal development on estuarine-habitat quality, we characterized land use and the intensity of land development surrounding small tidal tributaries in Tampa Bay. Based on this characterization, we classified tributaries as undeveloped, industrial, urban, or man-made (i.e., mosquito-control ditches). Over one third (37 %) of the tributaries have been heavily developed based on landscape development intensity (LDI) index values >5.0, while fewer than one third (28 %) remain relatively undeveloped (LDI < 3.0). We then examined the nekton community from 11 tributaries in watersheds representing the four defined land-use classes. Whereas mean nekton density was independent of land use, species richness and nekton-community structure were significantly different between urban and non-urban (i.e., undeveloped, industrial, man-made) tributaries. In urban creeks, the community was species-poor and dominated by high densities of poeciliid fishes, Poecilia latipinna and Gambusia holbrooki, while typically dominant estuarine taxa including Menidia spp., Fundulus grandis, and Adinia xenica were in low abundance and palaemonid grass shrimp were nearly absent. Densities of economically important taxa in urban creeks were only half that observed in five of the six undeveloped or industrial creeks, but were similar to those observed in mosquito ditches suggesting that habitat quality in urban and mosquito-ditch tributaries is suboptimal compared to undeveloped tidal creeks. Furthermore, five of nine common taxa were rarely collected in urban creeks. Our results suggest that urban development in coastal areas has the potential to alter the quality of habitat for nekton in small tidal tributaries as reflected by variation in the nekton community. © 2013 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.


PubMed | Southeast Ecological Science Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America | Year: 2012

The take of Nearctic songbirds for the caged-bird trade is an important cultural and economic activity in Mexico, but its sustainability has been questioned. We relied on the theta-logistic population model to explore options for setting allowable levels of take for 11 species of passerines that were subject to legal take in Mexico in 2010. Because estimates of population size necessary for making-periodic adjustments to levels of take are not routinely available, we examined the conditions under which a constant level of take might contribute to population depletion (i.e., a population below its level of maximum net productivity). The chance of depleting a population is highest when levels of take are based on population sizes that happen to be much lower or higher than the level of maximum net productivity, when environmental variation is relatively high and serially correlated, and when the interval between estimation of population size is relatively long (> or = 5 years). To estimate demographic rates of songbirds involved in the Mexican trade we relied on published information and allometric relationships to develop probability distributions for key rates, and then sampled from those distributions to characterize the uncertainty in potential levels of take. Estimates of the intrinsic rate of growth (r) were highly variable, but median estimates were consistent with those expected for relatively short-lived, highly fecund species. Allowing for the possibility of nonlinear density dependence generally resulted in allowable levels of take that were lower than would have been the case under an assumption of linearity. Levels of take authorized by the Mexican government in 2010 for the 11 species we examined were small in comparison to relatively conservative allowable levels of take (i.e., those intended to achieve 50% of maximum sustainable yield). However, the actual levels of take in Mexico are unknown and almost certainly exceed the authorized take. Also, the take of Nearctic songbirds in other Latin American and Caribbean countries ultimately must be considered in assessing population-level impacts.

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