Interactions between an invasive and a native bryozoan (Membranipora membranacea and Electra pilosa) species on kelp and Fucus substrates in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Most research on biological invasions to date has focused on the population dynamics of very successful and disruptive introduced species; however, additional knowledge of the biology of the native species is essential for understanding interactions between the two and may reveal factors that limit invasion success. The invasive bryozoan Membranipora membranacea interacts with native Electra pilosa on two substrates in northwest Atlantic subtidal habitats: highly dynamic and fast-growing kelps; and smaller, more stable, and slow-growing fucoid algae. We quantified the relative abundance and evaluated encounter outcomes in different seasons of these two bryozoans on kelp and Fucus at four sites in Nova Scotia. We also examined the effects of substrate (kelp, Fucus), temperature (7, 10, 13°C), and food (limited, unlimited) on growth rates of E. pilosa in laboratory experiments and using field manipulations. We compared our findings on factors affecting the growth of E. pilosa to those on M. membranacea obtained in similar and thus directly comparable experiments from a previous study. The proportional abundance of M. membranacea was greater than that of E. pilosa on kelps, but the opposite was observed on Fucus. Competitive standoffs between the two bryozoans were more frequent than expected, with no differences recorded between substrates; most encounters were won by M. membranacea. Growth of E. pilosa was faster on Fucus than kelp, decreased with increasing temperature only on Fucus, and was not affected by food. Growth rate of E. pilosa in all treatments was slower than that previously measured for M. membranacea. Faster growth and strong overgrowth abilities likely interact on kelps to ensure success of the invasive bryozoan. Success can be limited by low space availability, which in turn restricts growth rate, and consequently, colony size, such as on fucoid substrates. The incorporation of alternative contexts into invasion research can reveal factors involved in the resilience of native communities.