Marine protected communities against biological invasions: a case study from an offshore island.
Biological invasions are a major threat to the world's biota and are considered a major cause of biodiversity loss. Therefore, world marine policy has recognized the need for more marine protected areas (MPAs) as a major tool for biodiversity conservation. The present work experimentally evaluated how protected communities from an offshore island can face the settlement and/or expansion of nonindigenous species (NIS). First, NIS colonization success in marine protected and marina communities was compared by deploying PVC settling plates at the Garajau MPA and Funchal marina (SW Madeira Island). Then, the settling plates from the MPA were transferred to Funchal marina to test their resistance to NIS invasion under high levels of NIS pressure. Results indicated that the structure and composition of fouling communities from the MPA differed from those collected in the marina. Interestingly, communities from the protected area showed lower NIS colonization success, suggesting some degree of biotic resistance against NIS invasion.