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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Northeastern University
  • Geoffrey C Trussell
  • (781) 581-7370
Award Date:07/09/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 643,873
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 643,873
  • FY 2020=$643,873
Start Date:09/01/2020
End Date:08/31/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Local adaptation and the evolution of plasticity under predator invasion and warming seas: consequences for individuals, populations, and communities
Federal Award ID Number:2017626
DUNS ID:001423631
Parent DUNS ID:001423631
Program Officer:
  • Cynthia Suchman
  • (703) 292-2092

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:07

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Northeastern University
Street:430 Nahant Road
Cong. District:06

Abstract at Time of Award

Over the past two decades, the Gulf of Maine has experienced unprecedented warming that, among other things, has further enabled the invasive green crab to expand its range in rocky shore habitats. The adverse ecological impacts of this invasive predator have been documented worldwide. This study examines how geographic variation in the capacity of two common prey species to respond to the combination of this predator and warming ocean temperatures can shape prey feeding and performance and impact community structure and dynamics. Hence, this research enhances understanding of the evolution of phenotypes, their plasticity, and the nature of adaptation and its role in eco-evolutionary dynamics. More broadly, it informs understanding of how organisms and marine communities may respond to future environmental change. In addition, this project makes contributions to the STEM pipeline by providing middle and high school, undergraduate, and graduate students with cross-disciplinary training in evolutionary and community ecology. In collaboration with an institutional outreach program, the investigator is also developing web-based multimedia projects and teacher resource materials based on this research. A central principle in ecology is that species residing in the middle of food chains must balance the benefits of eating with the risk of being eaten by their predators. Solving this foraging-predation risk trade-off often involves plasticity in prey traits with consequences for the evolution of adaptation and species interactions that drive community-level processes. Hence, the foraging-predation risk trade-off provides a powerful conceptual framework that links evolutionary and community ecology. Yet at the same time, other environmental stressors like temperature can shape this trade-off, adding complexity that makes it difficult to predict the capacity of organisms to adapt to environmental change and the consequences for communities. The investigator is conducting this study in rocky shore habitats of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) which have long been influenced by strong latitudinal temperature gradients and non-native species invasions. The overarching hypothesis is that predation risk and temperature are factors shaping geographic variation in plasticity and adaptation, with consequences for individuals, populations, and communities. First, the investigator is conducting field experiments to document geographic variation in the trait plasticity of two common prey species in the green crab’s diet. Second, he is using reciprocal transplant experiments to examine trait plasticity in response to risk and water temperature, generating data to compare with similar experiments conducted in the late 90s prior to recent ocean warming and expansion in range of green crabs. Third, he is conducting a laboratory common garden experiment to evaluate the effects of risk and water temperature on trait plasticity. Finally, he is using reciprocal transplant experiments in the field to understand the interactive effects of risk and water temperature on prey foraging rates and the abundance of a species that plays an important role in intertidal community structure and dynamics. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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