ZOOPLANKTON COMMUNITY STRUCTURE AND ECOSYSTEM FUNCTION ACROSS A SALINITY GRADIENT

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Date

2016-05-05

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Werba, Jo

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East Carolina University

Abstract

Pre and post-colonization factors differentially affect community structure. Sea level rise is mixing formerly isoloted freshwater communities with salt water communities. These ponds have a large range of salinity, which is a strong post-colonization factor due to the difficulty of osmoregulation. In this study I seek to understand how changes in pre-colonization factor, dispersal, will affect this system that has a strong post-colonization filter in both community structure and ecosystem function. I manipulated dispersal between mesocosms at four distinct salinities (0ppt, 5ppt, 9ppt, 13ppt). I found that the post-colonization biological filter of salinity is the main driver of both structure and function,with reductions in diversity, decomposition and net primary productivity as salinity increased. This could have dire consequences for our coastal plains where salinity is increasing due to sea level rise.

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