Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Effects of native and invasive macroalgal canopies on composition and abundance of mobile benthic macrofauna and turf-forming algae.

Abstract

We examined the effects of native kelps, Laminaria longicruris de la Pylaie and L. digitata (Hudson) Lamouroux, and of the invasive alga, Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides (Van Goor) Silva, on the composition and abundance of mobile benthic macrofauna and of turf algae by measuring the response of these assemblages to experimental removal of the respective macroalgal canopy. From June 2003 to November 2004, we censused macrofauna and measured canopy cover within 4×10 m strips of alternating Canopy Intact (control) and Canopy Removed treatments in both a Codium- and a Laminaria-dominated habitat in the rocky subtidal zone of a semi-protected embayment on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Macroalgal canopy cover fluctuated seasonally, peaking in September/October (69% cover in 2003; 55% cover in 2004) for Codium and in May 2004 (70% cover) for kelps, and with both canopy types reaching a winter minimum in January 2004 (22 and 28% cover, respectively). In both Codium and Laminaria habitats, significant effects of canopy removal on the overall macrofaunal assemblage were evident only during periods in which canopy cover in the Canopy Intact treatment was ≥50%. In the Codium habitat, 4 out of 11 characteristic taxa were more abundant in the Canopy Intact treatment, where taxonomic diversity also was higher. In contrast, 4 out of 11 characteristic taxa in the Laminaria habitat were more abundant in the Canopy Removed treatment and diversity was similar between treatments. Turf algae were sampled in November 2004 and, despite between-treatment differences in the light regime, there was no significant effect of canopy removal. Our results indicate that selection of algal habitats by mobile macrofauna is likely determined by the different shelter and foraging opportunities offered by these morphologically dissimilar ecosystem engineers.