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Plum Island Ecosystems LTER

Investigators
Ryland Taylor, Ph.D Student
Dr. Martha Mather
12 other Principal Investigators from multiple universities

Project Supervisor
Dr. Anne Giblin, MBL, Woods Hole


Funding
National Science Foundation
Cooperators
Kansas State University


Status
Initiation Fall 2012
Completion
September 2017
Location
Plum Island Estuary
 
Objectives
Evaluate ecological drivers for the spatial arrangements and connectivity between ecological habitat patches in the coastal zone

Determine the spatial arrangement and the connectivity between ecological habitat patches in coastal watersheds and the estuarine seascape including their influence ecological processes

Continue studies of movement on fish predators
Progress and Results
The Plum Island Ecosystems (PIE) LTER has, since its inception in 1998, been working towards a predictive understanding of the long-term response of coupled land -water ecosystems. The Plum Island Estuary-LTER includes the coupled Parker, Rowley, and Ipswich River watersheds. Over the next four years we will build upon the progress we have made in understanding the importance of spatial patterns and connections across the land-margin ecosystem. Higher trophic levels, such as fish, rely on seascape configurations that create ‘hot spots’ of energy transfer up the food web. At larger scales, striped bass, a top predator, develops two distinct feeding groups–one specializing in feeding on marsh-dependent species and one specializing in pelagic fish in the open bay. This specialized behavior may allow them to become more efficient predators, potentially increasing their top-down control on prey.

Understanding the role of striped bass requires that we understand the regional scale dynamics of highly migratory striped bass. My involvement in this project focuses on how movements of top fish predators affect ecosystem structure and function. Specifically, using acoustic tags in conjunction with acoustic receivers, we have discovered that 65% of PIE striped bass (ages 4-6) winter in Delaware Bay and over 60% return to PIE the following year.

The scientific questions and methods used are very similar to those proposed for the blue catfish movement project. This research should complement ongoing fish movement work in Kansas.

Products:

Mather, M. E. Spatial patterns of striped bass. 2012. All Scientists Meeting, Plum Island Long Term Ecological Research, Woods Hole, MA. Invited