Deron E. Burkepile

Deron E. Burkepile
Florida International University | FIU · Department of Biological Sciences

Ph.D.

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153
Publications
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Publications

Publications (153)
Article
Understanding how functional traits drive plant-herbivore interactions often illuminates the mechanisms driving niche partitioning and functional diversity in this important guild of consumers. On coral reefs, a diverse suite of herbivorous fishes is key for controlling algal abundance and impacting benthic community dynamics. Here, we focus on how...
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African savannas are experiencing anthropogenically-induced stressors that are accelerating the increase of woody vegetation cover. To combat this, land managers frequently implement large-scale clearing of trees, which can have a cascading influence on mammalian herbivores. Studies rarely focus on how differences in woody cover influence the herbi...
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Coastal ecosystems play a disproportionately large role in society, and climate change is altering their ecological structure and function, as well as their highly valued goods and services. In the present article, we review the results from decade-scale research on coastal ecosystems shaped by foundation species (e.g., coral reefs, kelp forests, c...
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The outcomes of species interactions can vary greatly in time and space with the outcomes of some interactions determined by priority effects. On coral reefs, benthic algae rapidly colonize disturbed substrate. In the absence of top‐down control from herbivorous fishes, these algae can inhibit the recruitment of reef‐building corals, leading to a p...
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Coral disease is becoming increasingly problematic on reefs worldwide. However, most coral disease research has focused on the abiotic drivers of disease, potentially overlooking the role of species interactions in disease dynamics. Coral predators in particular can influence disease by breaking through protective tissues and exposing corals to inf...
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Local-scale nutrient pollution can alter coral growth and reproductive output, as well as their resident communities of microorganisms (dinoflagellates in the family Symbiodiniaceae, bacteria). Yet, the ways in which nutrient pollution alters coral interactions with their microorganisms are not fully understood, and no studies have tested for trans...
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For many long-lived taxa, such as trees and corals, older, and larger individuals often have the lowest mortality and highest fecundity. However, climate change-driven disturbances such as droughts and heatwaves may fundamentally alter typical size-dependent patterns of mortality and reproduction in these important foundation taxa. Working in Moore...
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A fundamental goal in ecology is to understand the role of consumers in top-down (TD) and bottom-up (BU) processes that affect the functioning of ecosystems. Consumers ingest organic matter and excrete inorganic nutrients, and individual roles are influenced by body size and functional identity. Our study quantifies how alterations to herbivore ass...
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Global- and local-scale anthropogenic stressors have been the main drivers of coral reef decline, causing shifts in coral reef community composition and ecosystem functioning. Excess nutrient enrichment can make corals more vulnerable to ocean warming by suppressing calcification and reducing photosynthetic performance. However, in some environment...
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The relative importance of evolutionary history and ecology for traits that drive ecosystem processes is poorly understood. Consumers are essential drivers of nutrient cycling on coral reefs, and thus ecosystem productivity. We use nine consumer “chemical traits” associated with nutrient cycling, collected from 1,572 individual coral reef fishes (1...
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A long‐held paradigm is that water depth has a strong influence on coral performance mainly due to the rapid attenuation of light. Yet, many factors influence coral performance across reefscapes, including corallivory. How coral demographic performance changes with water depth and the intensity of corallivory has not been tested but is intriguing b...
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Framework‐building corals create the three‐dimensional structure of coral reefs and are subject to predation from fishes, echinoderms, and gastropods. Anthropogenic stressors can magnify the effects of such top‐down pressure on foundation species. The gastropod Coralliophila violacea (Kiener, 1836) depletes coral energy reserves via predation, pote...
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Invasive species often drive native species to local extinction. A new study shows that removing invasive rats from tropical islands fosters recovery of native seabirds. Rising seabird populations reestablish key cross-ecosystem nutrient subsidies, reconnecting oceanic, island, and coral reef ecosystems.
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Think globally, act locally Climate change–driven elevations in temperature over the past few decades have caused repeated coral bleaching and subsequent death. The impact is so widespread that it has been suggested that only climate change reversal can save coral reefs globally. Donovan et al. looked at the interaction between local conditions and...
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Dysbiosis of coral microbiomes results from various biotic and environmental stressors, including interactions with important reef fishes which may act as vectors of opportunistic microbes via deposition of fecal material. Additionally, elevated sea surface temperatures have direct effects on coral microbiomes by promoting growth and virulence of o...
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Dysbiosis of coral microbiomes results from various biotic and environmental stressors, including interactions with important reef fishes which may act as vectors of opportunistic microbes via deposition of fecal material. Additionally, elevated sea surface temperatures have direct effects on coral microbiomes by promoting growth and virulence of o...
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The Kruger National Park’s (KNP) long-running experimental burn plots (EBPs) have a history of research projects, which improve the understanding of fire in savanna ecosystems. Using data from KNP’s aerial censuses (2005–2016) and in situ dung count data (2008–2017), this study assessed (1) herbivore densities on the Satara, N’Wanetsi and Marheya E...
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Thermal stress increases community diversity, community variability, and the abundance of potentially pathogenic microbial taxa in the coral microbiome. Nutrient pollution, such as excess nitrogen can also interact with thermal stress to exacerbate host fitness degradation. However, it is unclear how different forms of nitrogen (nitrate vs. ammoniu...
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Nutrient pollution is altering coastal ecosystems worldwide. On coral reefs, excess nutrients can favor the production of algae at the expense of reef-building corals, yet the role of nutrients in driving community changes such as shifts from coral to macroalgae is not well understood. Here we investigate the potential role of anthropogenic nutrien...
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Reef-building corals face a multitude of threats not only from global climate change but also local stressors such as nutrient pollution. Nutrient enrichment can amplify the negative effects of predation on corals by facilitating dysbiosis in the coral microbiome that leads to coral mortality. These patterns suggest that nutrient pollution might su...
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Comparison across terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems facilitates a broader understanding of ecological patterns. Although meta-analyses are important for quantitative synthesis across ecosystems, detailed comparisons of natural history and species interactions also illuminate convergence among systems. We compare the ecology of superficially dissim...
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Nitrogen pollution increases the susceptibility of corals to heat-induced bleaching. However, different forms of nitrogen (nitrate vs. ammonium/urea) may have different impacts on thermal tolerance of corals. We used an 18-month field experiment on the oligotrophic fore reef of Moorea, French Polynesia, to test how different forms of nitrogen (nitr...
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Energy flow and nutrient cycling dictate the functional role of organisms in ecosystems. Fishes are key vectors of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) in aquatic systems, and the quantification of elemental fluxes is often achieved by coupling bioenergetics and stoichiometry. While nutrient limitation has been accounted for in several stoi...
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Microbes are ubiquitous throughout the world's oceans, yet the manner and extent of their influence on the ecology and evolution of large, mobile fauna remains poorly understood. Here, we establish the intestinal microbiome as a hidden, and potentially important, ‘functional trait’ of tropical herbivorous fishes—a group of large consumers critical...
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Bioerosion by reef-dwelling organisms influences net carbonate budgets on reefs worldwide. External bioeroders, such as parrotfish and sea urchins, and internal bioeroders, including sponges and lithophagid bivalves, are major contributors to bioerosion on reefs. Despite their importance, few studies have examined how environmental (e.g., nutrients...
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Climate change is increasing the frequency and magnitude of temperature anomalies that cause coral bleaching, leading to widespread mortality of stony corals that can fundamentally alter reef structure and function. However, bleaching often is spatially variable for a given heat stress event, and drivers of this heterogeneity are not well resolved....
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Background Coral-associated microbial communities are sensitive to multiple environmental and biotic stressors that can lead to dysbiosis and mortality. Although the processes contributing to these microbial shifts remain inadequately understood, a number of potential mechanisms have been identified. For example, predation by various corallivore sp...
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Climatic extremes, such as severe drought, are expected to increase in frequency and magnitude with climate change. Thus, identifying mechanisms of resilience is critical to predicting the vulnerability of ecosystems. An exceptional drought (<1st percentile) impacted much of Southern Africa during the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons, including the si...
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The unique traits of large animals often allow them to fulfill functional roles in ecosystems that small animals cannot. However, large animals are also at greater risk from human activities. Thus, it is critical to understand how losing large animals impacts ecosystem function. In the oceans, selective fishing for large animals alters the demograp...
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Competition is a fundamental process structuring ecological communities. On coral reefs, space is a highly contested resource and the outcomes of spatial competition can dictate community composition. In the Caribbean, reefs are increasingly dominated by non-scleractinian species like sponges, gorgonians, and zoanthids, yet there is a paucity of da...
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Corals are in decline worldwide due to local anthropogenic stressors, such as nutrient loading, and global stressors, such as ocean warming. Anthropogenic nutrient loading, which is often rich in nitrate, inhibits coral growth and worsens corals’ response to warming while natural sources of nitrogen, such as ammonium from fish excretion, promotes c...
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Bacterial symbionts are integral to the health and homeostasis of invertebrate hosts. Notably, members of the Rickettsiales genus Wolbachia influence several aspects of the fitness and evolution of their terrestrial hosts, but few analogous partnerships have been found in marine systems. We report here the genome, phylogenetics, and biogeography of...
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Feeding behavior of coral reef fishes often determines their species‐specific ecological roles. We studied the two most common Caribbean surgeonfishes (Acanthurus coeruleus and Acanthurus tractus) to examine their species‐specific grazing rates and feeding preferences and how these differed with environmental context. We quantified the feeding acti...
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As the world's sixth mass extinction continues, the loss of large animals has widespread effects on biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Research across disparate systems, such as grasslands, marshes, forests, and coral reefs, shows that the effects of defaunation manifest even at the microbial scale, affecting microbial communities, microbe-drive...
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Globally, anthropogenic pressures are reducing the abundances of marine species and altering ecosystems through modification of trophic interactions. Yet, consumer declines also disrupt important bottom‐up processes, like nutrient recycling, which are critical for ecosystem functioning. Consumer‐mediated nutrient dynamics (CND) are now considered a...
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Parrotfishes are key herbivores on Caribbean reefs but also feed on other benthic taxa such as corals and sponges. Here, we used in situ behavioral observations to show that Caribbean parrotfishes have species-specific feeding patterns of corallivory and spongivory. Overall, Scarus guacamaia, Scarus taeniopterus, and Sparisoma viride were the most...
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Perturbations in natural systems generally are the combination of multiple interactions among individual stressors. However, methods to interpret the effects of interacting stressors remain challenging and are biased to identifying synergies which are prioritized in conservation. Therefore we conducted a multiple stressor experiment (no stress, sin...
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Overexploitation of key species can negatively impact ecosystem processes, so understanding the ecological roles of individual species is critical for improving ecosystem management. Here, we use coral reefs and the process of herbivory as a model to examine how species identity of consumers influence ecosystem processes to inform management of the...
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Thermal-stress events associated with climate change cause coral bleaching and mortality that threatens coral reefs globally. Yet coral bleaching patterns vary spatially and temporally. Here we synthesize field observations of coral bleaching at 3351 sites in 81 countries from 1998 to 2017 and use a suite of environmental covariates and temperature...
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The global decline of corals has created an urgent need for effective, science‐based methods to augment coral populations and restore important ecosystem functions. To meet this challenge, the field of coral restoration has rapidly evolved over the past decade. However, despite widespread efforts to outplant corals and monitor survivorship, there i...
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Corallivory is the predation of coral mucus, tissue, and skeleton by fishes and invertebrates, and a source of chronic stress for many reef-building coral species. Corallivores often prey on corals repeatedly, and this predation induces wounds that require extensive cellular resources to heal. The effects of corallivory on coral growth, reproductio...
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Herbivores alter plant biodiversity (species richness) in many of the world’s ecosystems, but the magnitude and the direction of herbivore effects on biodiversity vary widely within and among ecosystems. One current theory predicts that herbivores enhance plant biodiversity at high productivity but have the opposite effect at low productivity. Yet,...
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Nutrient pollution and thermal stress constitute two of the main drivers of global change in the coastal oceans. While different studies have addressed the physiological effects and ecological consequences of these stressors in corals, the role of acquired modifications in the coral epigenome during acclimatory and adaptive responses remains unknow...
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The article was originally published electronically on the publishers internet portal currently SpringerLink on 14 September 2018 with open access.
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Herbivory is a significant driver of algal community dynamics on coral reefs. However, abiotic factors such as the complexity and orientation of the benthos often mediate the impact of herbivores on benthic communities. We experimentally evaluated the independent and interactive effects of substrate orientation and herbivorous fishes on algal commu...
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Recent large-scale analyses suggest that local management actions may not protect coral reefs from climate change, yet most local threat-reduction strategies have not been tested experimentally. We show that removing coral predators is a common local action used by managers across the world, and that removing the corallivorous snail Coralliophila a...
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In the version of this Brief Communication originally published, the two instances of 'natural-to-high' in the sixth and seventh paragraphs were incorrect; they should have read 'naturally high'.
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Incorporating ecological processes into restoration planning is increasingly recognized as a fundamental component of successful restoration strategies. We outline a scientific framework to advance the emerging field of coral restoration. We advocate for harnessing ecological processes that drive community dynamics on coral reefs in a way that faci...
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Nutrient pollution can increase the prevalence and severity of coral disease and bleaching in ambient temperature conditions or during experimental thermal challenge. However, there have been few opportunities to study the effects of nutrient pollution during natural thermal anomalies. Here we present results from an experiment conducted during the...
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Identifying how herbivorous reef fish select resources is an important aspect of understanding how coral reef communities are structured. Ecological stoichiometry, built around the mass balance of elements, necessitates that to build tissue, maintain growth, and reproduce, animals must maintain a homeostatic balance of elements within their body. N...