Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Selective settlement by larvae of Membranipora membranacea and Electra pilosa (Ectoprocta) along kelp blades in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Abstract

Many larval sessile marine invertebrates exhibit settlement preferences, and larval behavioral responses to cues at settlement can ultimately influence the distribution of adults and an individual's lifetime fitness. Two epifaunal bryozoans, the invasive Membranipora membranacea and the native Electra pilosa, commonly co-occur on kelp species in the subtidal habitats of Nova Scotia, Canada. Outbreaks of M. membranacea have been linked to mass defoliation of the kelp canopy; however, E. pilosa has not been associated with any significant effect on its host substrate. To examine whether larvae of M. membranacea and E. pilosa exhibit settlement preference for a particular location along the blades of the kelps Saccharina latissima and Laminaria digitata, abundances of newly settled colonies were quantified at different locations along the kelp blade. Algae were sampled at 2 sites on the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia (The Lodge and Feltzen South) from September 2009 to October 2010, over one complete cycle of the annual life cycle of M. membranacea, and thus over a wide range of bryozoan percent cover. Settlers of both bryozoans were significantly more abundant towards the younger, more proximal regions of blades of both kelps across all sampling periods. These patterns did not vary seasonally with increasing colony density. Both M. membranacea and E. pilosa larvae showed preferential settlement, suggesting that they can detect small-scale differences in habitat quality at the scale of a single kelp blade.