Herbivore-mediated effects on ecosystem processes in a near-Arctic salt marsh

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Show simple item record Person, Brian Thomas 2015-03-02T23:22:25Z 2015-03-02T23:22:25Z 2001-12
dc.description Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2001 en_US
dc.description.abstract Herbivores influence, and often regulate energy flow. I investigated interactions between herbivory and the foods on which geese rely while nesting and rearing their broods on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in southwestern Alaska. In a captive Cackling Canada gosling (Branta Canadensis minima) experiment I decoupled the effects of seasonal declines in forage quality and availability on gosling development. An 11% decline in forage quality translated to goslings that were structurally smaller and 100 g lighter at 31 days of age. Forage availability had similar effects on gosling size, and the combined magnitude of these effects are similar to those observed in wild populations. I manipulated within-season grazing history of 'Carex subspathacea' swards within brood-rearing areas used by Black Brant geese (Branta bernicla nigricans). Spatial variation in forage quality and availability exceeded seasonal variation. Brant consumed over 95% of the annual aboveground production of these swards without any short- or apparent long-term effects on aboveground growth. Adding grazing pressure to 'C. ramenskii, ' or removing grazing pressure from 'C. subspathacea, ' resulted in a bi-directional shift in the morphology and nutritional characteristics of these sedges. The areal extent of 'C. subspathacea' increased 2 to 8% of the Tutakoke landscape with a concomitant decrease in 'C. ramenskii' meadows between 1991-1998. Brant have been increasing the carrying capacity of the Tutakoke River colony following a population decline in the early 1980's. The population has increased beginning in 1988, yet remains below historic numbers. Density-dependent effects on gosling growth accompanied the population increase initially. However, gosling mass has increased over the past decade due to herbivore-mediated increases in the areal extent of grazing lawns. en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents Ch. 1. Cackling Canada gosling growth: separating variation in food quality from availability -- Ch. 2. Forage variation in brood-rearing areas used by pacific black brant geese on the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta, Alaska -- Ch. 3. Feedback dynamics of grazing lawns: coupling vegetation change with animal growth -- Ch. 4. Stability of a near-arctic saltmarsh: community resistance to tidal disturbance -- Conclusions -- Literature cited. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.title Herbivore-mediated effects on ecosystem processes in a near-Arctic salt marsh en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US phd en_US
dc.identifier.department Department of Biology and Wildlife en_US

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