Associations between macrobenthos and invasive cordgrass, Spartina anglica, in the Danish Wadden Sea.
We conducted a survey to provide knowledge on mechanisms controlling spatial and temporal variability of macrobenthos in an intertidal Wadden Sea area partly covered by invasive Spartina anglica. Benthic macrofauna was collected seasonally at seven stations along a transect covering non-vegetated mudflat and vegetated marsh areas. Shannon diversity index was consistently higher for macrobenthos in the open mudflat compared to the marsh area. Infaunal species, like Arenicola marina, Tubificoides benedeni and Macoma balthica, were more abundant in the mudflat than the marsh, while the opposite was evident for epifaunal species, like Hydrobia ulvae and Littorina littorea. The infaunal crustacean, Corophium volutator, on the other hand, appeared particularly attracted to the mudflat-marsh boundary. The biomass of below-ground plant materials and macrodetritus was positively correlated with the total macrofaunal abundance, while the biomass of dead below-ground plant materials alone showed a significant negative correlation with infaunal abundance. Total macrofaunal abundance was highest during summer in the mudflat, while no seasonal pattern was evident in the marsh. The negative influence of S. anglica invasions on infaunal abundance may have serious implications for higher trophic levels, such as waterbirds, that forage in Wadden Sea areas and thus for the overall biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.