Steven C. Pennings

University of Houston, Houston, Texas, United States

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Publications (85)254.8 Total impact

  • Kazimierz Więski, Steven Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: Interactions between plants and herbivores often vary on a geographic scale. Although theory about plant defenses and tolerance is predicated on temporal or spatial variation in herbivore damage, no single study has compared the pattern of herbivory, plant defenses and tolerance to herbivory of a single species across a latitudinal gradient. In 2002–2005 we surveyed replicate salt marshes along the Atlantic coast of the United States from Florida to Maine. At each field site we scored leaves of Iva frutescens for herbivore damage. In laboratory experiments we measured constitutive resistance and induced resistance in I. frutescens from high and low latitude sites along the Atlantic Coast. In another common garden experiment we studied tolerance to herbivory of I. frutescens from various sites. Theory predicts that constitutive resistance should matter more when damage is high, and induced resistance when herbivory is high but variable. In the field, average levels of herbivore damage, and spatial and temporal variation in herbivore damage were all greater at low versus high latitudes, indicating that constitutive as well as induced resistance should be stronger at low latitudes. Consistent with this prediction, constitutive resistance to herbivory was stronger at low latitudes. Induced resistance to herbivores was also stronger at low latitudes: it was deployed faster and lasted longer. Theory also predicts that tolerance to herbivory should be greater where average herbivory damage is greater; however, tolerance to herbivory in Iva did not depend on geographic origin. Our results emphasize the value of considering multiple ways in which plants respond to herbivores when examining geographic variation in plant–herbivore interactions.
    Ecography 03/2014; · 5.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the processes determining community structure is one of the major goals of ecological research. Both deterministic and stochastic processes may shape community structure. The challenge is to understand the relative influence of each type of process across different environmental conditions. We investigated the influence of deterministic and stochastic processes on plant community assembly in tidal marshes across a strong abiotic (salinity) gradient in three estuaries in Georgia, USA using probabilistic Raup–Crick community dissimilarity. Our results indicated that deterministic processes had an increasingly important influence on structuring plant communities in salt and brackish marshes, probably due to high heterogeneity of microhabitats produced by the interplay between abiotic stress and biotic interactions. In contrast, the influence of deterministic processes on plant community assembly decreased in tidal freshwater marshes, suggesting an increasingly important role of stochastic processes in plant community assembly in tidal freshwater marshes, probably due to the higher species richness, higher recruitment from seed, and lower levels of abiotic stress in these habitats. At the estuarine scale (across tidal freshwater, brackish and salt marshes in each estuary), our results suggested that deterministic processes also had a relatively important influence on shaping plant community structure. Our results illustrated that plant community structure in tidal marshes is influenced by both deterministic and stochastic processes, but that the relative influence of these two types of processes varies across estuarine landscapes.
    Oikos 01/2014; 123(2). · 3.33 Impact Factor
  • Hongyu Guo, Yihui Zhang, Zhenjiang Lan, Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: Many species are expanding their distributions to higher latitudes due to global warming. Understanding the mechanisms underlying these distribution shifts is critical for better understanding the impacts of climate changes. The climate envelope approach is widely used to model and predict species distribution shifts with changing climates. Biotic interactions between species, however, may also influence species distributions, and a better understanding of biotic interactions could improve predictions based solely on climate envelope models. Along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, USA, sub-tropical black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) at the northern limit of its distribution grows sympatrically with temperate salt marsh plants in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. In recent decades, freeze-free winters have led to an expansion of black mangrove into salt marshes. We examined how biotic interactions between black mangrove and salt marsh vegetation along the Texas coast varied across 1) a latitudinal gradient (associated with a winter-temperature gradient); 2) the elevational gradient within each marsh (which creates different marsh habitats); and 3) different life history stages of black mangroves (seedlings versus juvenile trees). Each of these variables affected the strength or nature of biotic interactions between black mangrove and salt marsh vegetation: 1) Salt marsh vegetation facilitated black mangrove seedlings at their high-latitude distribution limit, but inhibited black mangrove seedlings at lower latitudes; 2) mangroves performed well at intermediate elevations, but grew and survived poorly in high and low marsh habitats; 3) the effect of salt marsh vegetation on black mangroves switched from negative to neutral as black mangroves grew from seedlings into juvenile trees. These results indicate that the expansion of black mangroves is mediated by complex biotic interactions. A better understanding of the impacts of climate change on ecological communities requires incorporating context-dependent biotic interactions into species range models. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Global Change Biology 04/2013; · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    Chuan-Kai Ho, Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: High-latitude plants are often more palatable to herbivores than low-latitude conspecifics. Does increased plant palatability lead to better herbivore performance? Our field and laboratory work investigated (A) whether high-latitude plants have traits indicating that they should be higher-quality foods for herbivores; (B) whether geographic differences in plant quality are more important than local adaptation of herbivores. We studied 3 plant species and 6 invertebrate herbivores in U.S. Atlantic Coast. Past studies had shown high-latitude individuals of these plants are more palatable than low-latitude conspecifics. We documented plant traits and herbivore performance (body size) in the field across latitude. We collected individuals from different latitudes for factorial (plant region x herbivore region) laboratory experiments, examining how herbivore performance was affected by plant region, herbivore region, and their interaction (i.e., local adaptation). Field surveys suggested high-latitude plants were likely of higher quality to herbivores. Leaf nitrogen content in all plant species increased toward high latitudes, consistent with lower leaf C/N and higher leaf chlorophyll content at high latitudes. Furthermore, leaf toughness decreased toward higher latitudes in 1 species. The body size of 4 herbivore species increased with latitude, consistent with high-latitude leaves being of higher quality, while 2 grasshopper species showed the opposite pattern, likely due to life-history constraints. In the laboratory, high-latitude plants supported better performance in 4 herbivore species (marginal in the 5th). The geographic region where herbivores were collected affected herbivore performance in all 6 species; however, the pattern was mixed, indicating a lack of local adaptation by herbivores to plants from their own geographic region. Our results suggest that more-palatable plants at high latitudes support better herbivore growth. Given that geographic origin of either plants or herbivores can affect herbivore performance, the nature of plant-herbivore interactions is likely to change if climate change "reshuffles" plant and herbivore populations across latitude.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e59829. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    Malte Treplin, Steven C Pennings, Martin Zimmer
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    ABSTRACT: To add to our understanding of species richness-effects on ecosystem processes, we studied the importance of species complementarity in driving decomposition in a saltmarsh in Georgia, USA. We studied pair-wise interactions of both detritivores and plant litter species and how they affect decomposition rates in an experiment located on the mid-marsh platform. Needle rush, Juncus roemerianus, had 2-3 times higher decomposition rates than cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, or live oak, Quercus virginiana. Mixing litter types did not promote decomposition rates. Cordgrass decomposition was 1.5-times higher when periwinkles, Littoraria irrorata, were present than in detritivore-free controls. In contrast, neither coffee-bean snails, Melampus bidentatus, nor wharf crabs, Armases cinereum, increased cordgrass decomposition rates. Mixing detritivore species did not increase cordgrass mass loss beyond expected rates from an additive model. We conclude that in this system, species do not act complementarily with each other, but that decomposition rates are controlled by the dominant species of angiosperms and invertebrate detritivores.
    Wetlands 01/2013; 33:83-89. · 1.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An important recent advance in food web ecology has been the application of theory regarding spatial gradients to studies of the factors that affect animal population dynamics. Building on extensive studies of the Spartina alterniflora food web at the local scale, we hypothesized that geographic variation in S. alterniflora quality is an important bottom‐up control on food web structure and that geographic variation in S. alterniflora quality would interact with the presence of predators and top omnivores to mediate herbivore densities.We employed a four‐factor fully crossed experiment in which we (i) collected plants from high‐ and low‐latitude locations and grew them in a common garden and varied (ii) plant fertilization status (mimicking the plant quality differences due to marsh elevation), (iii) mesopredator density and (iv) omnivore density.Our results suggest that the single most important factor mediating insect herbivore densities is local variation in plant quality – induced in our experiment by fertilization and demonstrated repeatedly as a consequence of marsh elevation.Top‐down effects were generally weak and in those cases where predators did exert a significant suppressing effect on herbivores, that impact was itself mediated by host‐plant characteristics.Finally, despite observed variation in plant quality with latitude, and the separately measurable effects of this variation on herbivores, geographic‐scale variation in plant quality was overwhelmed by local conditions in our experiments.Synthesis. We suggest that a first‐order understanding of variation across large latitudinal ranges in the Spartina alterniflora arthropod food web must begin with local variation in plant quality, which provides strong bottom‐up forcing to herbivore populations. A second‐order understanding of the arthropod food web should consider the role of predation in controlling herbivores feeding on low‐quality plants. Finally, while latitudinal variation in plant quality probably explains some variation in herbivore densities, it is probably more of a response to herbivore pressure than a driver of the herbivore dynamics. Although extrapolating from local to geographic scales presents multiple challenges, it is an essential task in order for us to develop an understanding that is general rather than site‐specific.
    Clinical and Experimental Allergy 01/2013; 101(5). · 5.43 Impact Factor
  • Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: A landscape-scale experiment shows that excessive nutrient levels can cause the loss of salt marshes -- a result that was not seen in smaller studies. This illustrates the value of large-scale, long-term studies in ecology. See Letter p.388
    Nature 10/2012; 490(7420):352-3. · 38.60 Impact Factor
  • Hongyu Guo, Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: Oysters are ecosystem engineers in marine ecosystems, but the functions of oyster shell deposits in intertidal salt marshes are not well understood. The annual plant Suaeda linearis is associated with oyster shell deposits in Georgia salt marshes. We hypothesized that oyster shell deposits promoted the distribution of Suaeda linearis by engineering soil conditions unfavorable to dominant salt marsh plants of the region (the shrub Borrichia frutescens, the rush Juncus roemerianus, and the grass Spartina alterniflora). We tested this hypothesis using common garden pot experiments and field transplant experiments. Suaeda linearis thrived in Borrichia frutescens stands in the absence of neighbors, but was suppressed by Borrichia frutescens in the with-neighbor treatment, suggesting that Suaeda linearis was excluded from Borrichia frutescens stands by interspecific competition. Suaeda linearis plants all died in Juncus roemerianus and Spartina alterniflora stands, regardless of neighbor treatments, indicating that Suaeda linearis is excluded from these habitats by physical stress (likely water-logging). In contrast, Borrichia frutescens, Juncus roemerianus, and Spartina alterniflora all performed poorly in Suaeda linearis stands regardless of neighbor treatments, probably due to physical stresses such as low soil water content and low organic matter content. Thus, oyster shell deposits play an important ecosystem engineering role in influencing salt marsh plant communities by providing a unique niche for Suaeda linearis, which otherwise would be rare or absent in salt marshes in the southeastern US. Since the success of Suaeda linearis is linked to the success of oysters, efforts to protect and restore oyster reefs may also benefit salt marsh plant communities.
    Oecologia 05/2012; 170(3):789-98. · 3.01 Impact Factor
  • Brittany D McCall, Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: We examined geographic variation in the structure and function of salt marsh communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Focusing on the arthropod community in the dominant salt marsh plant Spartina alterniflora, we tested two hypotheses: first, that marsh community structure varies geographically, and second, that two aspects of marsh function (response to eutrophication and addition of dead plant material) also vary geographically. We worked at eleven sites on the Gulf Coast and eleven sites on the Atlantic Coast, dividing each coast up into two geographic areas. Abiotic conditions (tidal range, soil organic content, and water content, but not soil salinity), plant variables (Spartina nitrogen content, height, cover of dead plant material, but not live Spartina percent cover or light interception), and arthropod variables (proportional abundances of predators, sucking herbivores, stem-boring herbivores, parasitoids, and detritivores, but not total arthropod numbers) varied among the four geographic regions. Latitude and mean tidal range explained much of this geographic variation. Nutrient enrichment increased all arthropod functional groups in the community, consistent with previous experimental results, and had similar effects in all geographic regions, contrary to our hypothesis, suggesting widespread consistency in this aspect of ecosystem function. The addition of dead plant material had surprisingly little effect on the arthropod community. Our results caution against the uncritical extrapolation of work done in one geographic region to another, but indicate that some aspects of marsh function may operate in similar ways in different geographic regions, despite spatial variation in community structure.
    Oecologia 05/2012; 170(3):777-87. · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nutrient addition to grasslands consistently causes species richness declines and productivity increases. Competition, particularly for light, is often assumed to produce this result. Using a long-term dataset from North American herbaceous plant communities, we tested whether height and clonal growth form together predict responses to fertilization because neither trait alone predicted species loss in a previous analysis. Species with a tall-runner growth form commonly increased in relative abundance in response to added nitrogen, while short species and those with a tall-clumped clonal growth form often decreased. The ability to increase in size via vegetative spread across space, while simultaneously occupying the canopy, conferred competitive advantage, although typically only the abundance of a single species within each height-clonal growth form significantly responded to fertilization in each experiment. Classifying species on the basis of two traits (height and clonal growth form) increases our ability to predict species responses to fertilization compared to either trait alone in predominantly herbaceous plant communities. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2264-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Oecologia 02/2012; 169(4):1053-62. · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    Brittany D McCall, Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: Oil spills represent a major environmental threat to coastal wetlands, which provide a variety of critical ecosystem services to humanity. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico is a hub of oil and gas exploration activities that historically have impacted intertidal habitats such as salt marsh. Following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we sampled the terrestrial arthropod community and marine invertebrates found in stands of Spartina alterniflora, the most abundant plant in coastal salt marshes. Sampling occurred in 2010 as oil was washing ashore and a year later in 2011. In 2010, intertidal crabs and terrestrial arthropods (insects and spiders) were suppressed by oil exposure even in seemingly unaffected stands of plants; however, Littoraria snails were unaffected. One year later, crab and arthropods had largely recovered. Our work is the first attempt that we know of assessing vulnerability of the salt marsh arthropod community to oil exposure, and it suggests that arthropods are both quite vulnerable to oil exposure and quite resilient, able to recover from exposure within a year if host plants remain healthy.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e32735. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    Hongyu Guo, Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding of how plant communities are organized and will respond to global changes requires an understanding of how plant species respond to multiple environmental gradients. We examined the mechanisms mediating the distribution patterns of tidal marsh plants along an estuarine gradient in Georgia (USA) using a combination of field transplant experiments and monitoring. Our results could not be fully explained by the "competition-to-stress hypothesis" (the current paradigm explaining plant distributions across estuarine landscapes). This hypothesis states that the upstream limits of plant distributions are determined by competition, and the downstream limits by abiotic stress. We found that competition was generally strong in freshwater and brackish marshes, and that conditions in brackish and salt marshes were stressful to freshwater marsh plants, results consistent with the competition-to-stress hypothesis. Four other aspects of our results, however, were not explained by the competition-to-stress hypothesis. First, several halophytes found the freshwater habitat stressful and performed best (in the absence of competition) in brackish or salt marshes. Second, the upstream distribution of one species was determined by the combination of both abiotic and biotic (competition) factors. Third, marsh productivity (estimated by standing biomass) was a better predictor of relative biotic interaction intensity (RII) than was salinity or flooding, suggesting that productivity is a better indicator of plant stress than salinity or flooding gradients. Fourth, facilitation played a role in mediating the distribution patterns of some plants. Our results illustrate that even apparently simple abiotic gradients can encompass surprisingly complex processes mediating plant distributions.
    Ecology 01/2012; 93(1):90-100. · 5.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Predation on detritivores is expected to decelerate detritivore-mediated decomposition processes. In field mes-ocosms, we studied whether the decomposition of leaf and needle litter of live oak (Quercus virginiana) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), respectively, was affected by saltmarsh detritivores (Gastropoda: Littoraria irrorata and Melampus bidentatus) and predacious omnivores (Decapoda: Armases cinereum) and their interactions. Both crabs and snails alone increased decomposition (mass loss) rates of oak litter, while a combination of both resulted in the same mass loss as in animal-free controls, probably due to crabs feeding on snails rather than litter. Neither crabs nor snails alone affect-ed mass loss of pine litter, but a combination of both signif-icantly increased decomposition rates. Irrespective of the litter type, crabs significantly increased mortality of the snails but gained biomass only on pine litter and only when detritivorous snails were present. Our findings suggest that unidirectional facilitation of omnivorous semi-terrestrial crabs by their detritivorous prey (saltmarsh snails) promotes the decomposition of low-quality (pine) litter. On high-quality (oak) litter, by contrast, negative effects of the predator pre-vail, resulting in a drop of decomposition rates when crabs were present, probably owing to predation on detritivorous snails. Thus, the effects of predator/prey-interactions on decomposition processes are context-dependent and are controlled by resource quality.
    Wetlands 01/2012; 32:931-938. · 1.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Top–down and bottom–up effects interact to structure communities, especially in salt marshes, which contain strong gradients in bottom–up drivers such as salinity and nutrients. How omnivorous consumers respond to variation in prey availability and plant quality is poorly understood. We used a mesocosm experiment to examine how salinity, nutrients, an omnivore (the katydid Orchelimum fidicinium) and an herbivore (the planthopper Prokelisia spp.) interacted to structure a simplified salt marsh food web based on the marsh grass Spartina alterniflora. Bottom–up effects were strong, with both salinity and nutrients decreasing leaf C/N and increasing Prokelisia abundance. Top–down effects on plants were also strong, with both the herbivore and the omnivore affecting S. alterniflora traits and growth, especially when nutrients or salt were added. In contrast, top–down control by Orchelimum of Prokelisia was independent of bottom–up conditions. Orchelimum grew best on a diet containing both Spartina and Prokelisia, and in contrast to a sympatric omnivorous crab, did not shift to an animal-based diet when prey were present, suggesting that it is constrained to consume a mixed diet. These results suggest that the trophic effects of omnivores depend on omnivore behavior, dietary constraints, and ability to suppress lower trophic levels, and that omnivorous katydids may play a previously unrecognized role in salt marsh food webs.
    Estuaries and Coasts 01/2012; 35(2). · 2.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Summary1. Community assembly theories predict that the success of invading species into a new community should be predictable by functional traits. Environmental filters could constrain the number of successful ecological strategies in a habitat, resulting in similar suites of traits between native and successfully invading species (convergence). Conversely, concepts of limiting similarity and competitive exclusion predict native species will prevent invasion by functionally similar exotic species, resulting in trait divergence between the two species pools. Nutrient availability may further alter the strength of convergent or divergent forces in community assembly, by relaxing environmental constraints and/or influencing competitive interactions.2. To investigate how nutrient availability influences forces of divergence and convergence during the invasion of exotic species into native communities, we conducted multivariate analyses of community composition and functional traits from naturally assembled plant communities in long-term nitrogen (N) addition experiments across North America.3. Relative abundances of key functional traits differed between the native and exotic plant communities, consistent with limiting similarity or a trait bias in the exotic species pool. Environmental context also played an important role in invasion because sites varied in the identity of the traits that predicted dissimilarity between native and exotic communities. Nitrogen enrichment did not alter these patterns.4. Nitrogen enrichment tended to increase exotic abundance, but this result was driven by a dramatic increase in exotics in only a few experiments. When similarity between native and exotic communities was included in the statistical model, N enrichment no longer predicted an increase in exotic relative abundance. Instead, sites with the highest abundance of exotic species were the ones where native and exotic communities had the highest trait similarity.5. Synthesis. Our analysis of natural patterns of invasion across herbaceous communities in North America found evidence of both divergent and convergent forces on community assembly with exotic species. Together, these results suggest that while functionally dissimilar exotic species may be more likely to invade, they are unlikely to become abundant unless they have traits pre-adapting them to environmental conditions in their invaded range. Contrary to prior studies, invasion was not consistently promoted by N enrichment.
    Journal of Ecology 10/2011; 99(6):1327 - 1338. · 5.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The shrub Iva frutescens, which occupies the terrestrial border of U.S. Atlantic Coast salt marshes, supports a food web that varies strongly across latitude. We tested whether latitudinal variation in plant quality (higher at high latitudes), consumption by omnivores (a crab, present only at low latitudes), consumption by mesopredators (ladybugs, present at all latitudes), or the life history stage of an herbivorous beetle could explain continental-scale field patterns of herbivore density. In a mesocosm experiment, crabs exerted strong top-down control on herbivorous beetles, ladybugs exerted strong top-down control on aphids, and both predators benefited plants through trophic cascades. Latitude of plant origin had no effect on consumers. Herbivorous beetle density was greater if mesocosms were stocked with beetle adults rather than larvae, and aphid densities were reduced in the "adult beetle" treatment. Treatment combinations representing high and low latitudes produced patterns of herbivore density similar to those in the field. We conclude that latitudinal variation in plant quality is less important than latitudinal variation in top consumers and competition in mediating food web structure. Climate may also play a strong role in structuring high-latitude salt marshes by limiting the number of herbivore generations per growing season and causing high overwintering mortality.
    Ecology 02/2011; 92(2):276-81. · 5.18 Impact Factor
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    Emily S. Marquardt, Steven C. Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: Some herbivores deliberately consume a mixed diet, either to obtain a superior mix of nutrients or to avoid consuming too much of any one toxin. Few studies have examined diet mixing in parasitic plants, which typically have very broad host ranges. We offered the parasitic plant Cuscuta indecora (dodder), a range of mixtures of two hosts (Iva frutescens and Borrichia frutescens) in the greenhouse, and observed correlations between the host community and Cuscuta infection in the field. In the greenhouse, Cuscuta performed better on mixtures with a higher relative abundance of Iva. Cuscuta selectively foraged on whichever host was more abundant (diet switching), the exact opposite of the behavior that would be expected if diet mixing was advantageous. In the field, the intensity of Cuscuta infections was decreased by the presence of non-hosts (grasses), not strongly affected by the presence of intermediate hosts, and increased by the presence of Borrichia. We conclude that Cuscuta does not obtain nutritional benefits from a broad diet, but instead is constrained by its relative lack of mobility to attack hosts of intermediate value. In general, the lack of mobility of parasitic plants compared to herbivores probably selects for broad host ranges in parasitic plants. KeywordsCuscuta–Mixed diet–Diet breadth–Parasitic plant–Salt marsh–Herbivory
    Plant Ecology 01/2011; 212(1):69-77. · 1.53 Impact Factor
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    Emily S Marquardt, Steven C Pennings
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    ABSTRACT: Consumers do not always utilize all suitable hosts. Understanding why parasitic plants do not always parasitize potentially suitable hosts requires a better understanding of the constraints that limit host use by parasitic plants. In Texas salt marshes, the parasitic plant Cuscuta indecora rarely parasitizes three hosts that support vigorous growth in the greenhouse. We identified three constraints on host use by C. indecora. First, a mismatch between the phenology of C. indecora and some suitable hosts meant that these hosts were not abundant when C. indecora was growing most vigorously, and therefore were underutilized. Second, C. indecora preferentially parasitized tall plants versus short ones, causing relatively short species to be underutilized. Third, C. indecora overwinters in some perennial hosts but has to reinfect annual hosts each year, causing annuals and perennials that do not support overwintering to be underutilized. In combination, these constraints, which reflect the general lack of mobility of parasitic plants relative to herbivores, remove half of the potential host species from the actual diet of C. indecora, and therefore likely represent a major limitation on the success of this parasite. Similar constraints are likely to limit the realized host range of many parasitic plants and select for generalized diet preferences.
    Oecologia 09/2010; 164(1):177-84. · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Factors that maintain genetic and species diversity may act in concert in natural ecosystems. Here, we investigate correlations between genetic diversity (in eight salt marsh species) and community species diversity. A significant positive correlation existed between genetic diversity and species richness, although the relationship was not significant for any species individually. Nonetheless, four of the eight comparisons showed strong positive relationships between genetic and species diversity. Additionally, several abiotic variables were used in a model selection procedure to determine what site-level characteristics might drive differences in genetic diversity in this system. The rate of larval influx, as measured by barnacle abundance on Spartina alterniflora, was the strongest predictor of site-level genetic diversity in our samples. Our results suggest that estuarine management efforts should consider recruitment rates when selecting areas for protection. KeywordsGenetic diversity-Species–genetic diversity correlation-SGDC-Salt marsh-GCE-LTER-Settlement rate
    Estuaries and Coasts 01/2010; 33(4):865-877. · 2.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined patterns of habitat function (plant species richness), productivity (plant aboveground biomass and total C), and nutrient stocks (N and P in aboveground plant biomass and soil) in tidal marshes of the Satilla, Altamaha, and Ogeechee Estuaries in Georgia, USA. We worked at two sites within each salinity zone (fresh, brackish, and saline) in each estuary, sampling a transect from the creekbank to the marsh platform. In total, 110 plant species were found. Site-scale and plot-scale species richness decreased from fresh to saline sites. Standing crop biomass and total carbon stocks were greatest at brackish sites, followed by freshwater then saline sites. Nitrogen stocks in plants and soil decreased across sites as salinity increased, while phosphorus stocks did not differ between fresh and brackish sites but were lowest at salty sites. These results generally support past speculation about ecosystem change across the estuarine gradient, emphasizing that ecosystem function in tidal wetlands changes sharply across the relatively short horizontal distance of the estuary. Changes in plant distribution patterns driven by global changes such as sea level rise, changing climates, or fresh water withdrawal are likely to have strong impacts on a variety of wetland functions and services.
    Estuaries and Coasts 01/2010; 33(1):161-169. · 2.56 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
254.80 Total Impact Points


  • 1571–2014
    • University of Houston
      • Department of Biology and Biochemistry
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2008
    • University of Michigan
      Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
    • Boston University
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2006
    • Western Washington University
      • Department of Biology
      Bellingham, Washington, United States
  • 2005
    • University of California, Irvine
      • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
      Irvine, CA, United States
  • 2004
    • Brown University
      • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
      Providence, RI, United States
  • 1999–2004
    • University of Georgia
      • Marine Institute at Sapelo
      Атина, Georgia, United States
  • 2003
    • University of Windsor
      Windsor, Ontario, Canada
  • 2002
    • University of Montana
      • Division of Biological Sciences
      Missoula, MT, United States
  • 2001
    • Oregon State University
      Corvallis, Oregon, United States
    • University of Sunderland
      Sunderland, England, United Kingdom
  • 1991–2001
    • University of Guam
      Mangilao Village, Mangilao Municipality, Guam
  • 2000
    • Universität Ulm
      • Workgroup of Electron Microscopy
      Ulm, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • 1990–1991
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
      Santa Barbara, California, United States