Leonard, K., Hewitt, C. L., Campbell, M. L., Primo, C., & Miller, S. D. (2017). Epibiotic pressure contributes to biofouling invader success. Scientific Reports, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-05470-2
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/11229
Reduced competition is a frequent explanation for the success of many introduced species. In benthic marine biofouling communities, space limitation leads to high rates of overgrowth competition. Some species can utilise other living organisms as substrate (epibiosis), proffering a competitive advantage for the epibiont. Additionally, some species can prevent or reduce epibiotic settlement on their surfaces and avoid being basibionts. To test whether epibiotic pressure differs between native and introduced species, we undertook ex situ experiments comparing bryozoan larval settlement to determine if introduced species demonstrate a greater propensity to settle as epibionts, and a reduced propensity to be basibionts, than native species. Here we report that introduced species opportunistically settle on any space (bare, native, or introduced), whereas native species exhibit a strong tendency to settle on and near other natives, but avoid settling on or near introduced basibionts. In addition, larvae of native species experience greater larval wastage (mortality) than introduced species, both in the presence and absence of living substrates. Introduced species’ ability to settle on natives as epibionts, and in turn avoid epibiosis as basibionts, combined with significantly enhanced native larval wastage, provides a comprehensive suite of competitive advantages contributing to the invasion success of these biofouling species.
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