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Integrated analysis shows how the effects of extreme flooding events propagate through fish communities to impact amphibians

June 7, 2023

Research Highlight: Davis, C. L., Walls, S. C., Barichivich, W. J., Brown, M. E., & Miller, D. A. (2022). Disentangling direct and indirect effects of extreme events on coastal wetland communities. Journal of Animal Ecology, Catastrophic events such as floods, hurricanes, winter storms, droughts and wildfires increasingly touch our lives either directly or indirectly. These events draw our attention to the seriousness of changes in climate not only to human well-being but also to the integrity of ecological systems upon which we depend. Understanding the impacts of extreme events on ecological systems requires the ability to characterize the cascading effects of environmental changes on the environments in which organisms live and the altered biological interactions produced. This scientific ambition represents no small challenge for the study of animal communities, which are typically difficult to census as well as dynamic in time and space. Davis et al. (2022) in a recent study in the Journal of Animal Ecology examined the amphibian and fish communities found in depressional coastal wetlands to better understand how they respond to major rainfall and flooding events. Data from the U.S. Geological Survey's Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative provided an 8-year record of observations as well as environmental measurements. For this study, the authors integrated techniques for assessing the dynamics of animal populations with a Bayesian implementation of structural equation modelling. Using their integrated methodological approach permitted the authors to reveal the direct and indirect effects of extreme weather events on co-occurring amphibian and fish communities while accounting for observational uncertainty and temporal variation in population-level processes. Their findings indicate that the most prominent effects of flooding on the amphibian community were caused by changes in the fish community that led to increased predation and resource competition. In their conclusions, the authors emphasize the importance of understanding networks of abiotic and biotic effects if we are to predict and mitigate the influence of extreme weather events.

Publication Year 2023
Title Integrated analysis shows how the effects of extreme flooding events propagate through fish communities to impact amphibians
DOI 10.1111/1365-2656.13926
Authors James Grace
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Animal Ecology
Index ID 70245122
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center