Land cover and rainfall interact to shape waterbird community composition

Studds, Colin E., DeLuca, William V., Baker, Matthew E., King, Ryan S. and Marra, Peter P. (2012) Land cover and rainfall interact to shape waterbird community composition. Plos One, 7 4: e35969.1-e35969.10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035969

Author Studds, Colin E.
DeLuca, William V.
Baker, Matthew E.
King, Ryan S.
Marra, Peter P.
Title Land cover and rainfall interact to shape waterbird community composition
Journal name Plos One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2012-04
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0035969
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 7
Issue 4
Start page e35969.1
End page e35969.10
Total pages 10
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Human land cover can degrade estuaries directly through habitat loss and fragmentation or indirectly through nutrient inputs that reduce water quality. Strong precipitation events are occurring more frequently, causing greater hydrological connectivity between watersheds and estuaries. Nutrient enrichment and dissolved oxygen depletion that occur following these events are known to limit populations of benthic macroinvertebrates and commercially harvested species, but the consequences for top consumers such as birds remain largely unknown. We used non-metric multidimensional scaling (MDS) and structural equation modeling (SEM) to understand how land cover and annual variation in rainfall interact to shape waterbird community composition in Chesapeake Bay, USA. The MDS ordination indicated that urban subestuaries shifted from a mixed generalist-specialist community in 2002, a year of severe drought, to generalist-dominated community in 2003, of year of high rainfall. The SEM revealed that this change was concurrent with a sixfold increase in nitrate-N concentration in subestuaries. In the drought year of 2002, waterbird community composition depended only on the direct effect of urban development in watersheds. In the wet year of 2003, community composition depended both on this direct effect and on indirect effects associated with high nitrate-N inputs to northern parts of the Bay, particularly in urban subestuaries. Our findings suggest that increased runoff during periods of high rainfall can depress water quality enough to alter the composition of estuarine waterbird communities, and that this effect is compounded in subestuaries dominated by urban development. Estuarine restoration programs often chart progress by monitoring stressors and indicators, but rarely assess multivariate relationships among them. Estuarine management planning could be improved by tracking the structure of relationships among land cover, water quality, and waterbirds. Unraveling these complex relationships may help managers identify and mitigate ecological thresholds that occur with increasing human land cover.
Keyword Chesapeake Bay
Coastal urbanization
Nitrogen export
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article no. e35969

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Created: Sat, 15 Sep 2012, 16:44:47 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences