Removal treatments alter the recruitment dynamics of a global marine invader - implications for management feasibility.
Frameworks designed to prioritise the management of invasive non-native species (INNS) must consider many factors, including their impacts on native biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health. Management feasibility should also be foremost in any prioritisation process, but is often overlooked, particularly in the marine environment. The Asian kelp, Undaria pinnatifida, is one of the most cosmopolitan marine INNS worldwide and recognised as a priority species for monitoring in the UK and elsewhere. Here, experimental monthly removals of Undaria (from 0.2 m2 patches of floating pontoon) were conducted at two marinas to investigate their influence on recruitment dynamics and the potential implications for management feasibility. Over the 18-month experiment there was no consistent reduction in Undaria recruitment following removals. Cleaning of pontoon surfaces (i.e. removal of all biota) led to significant short-term reductions in recruitment but caused a temporal shift in normal recruitment patterns. Non-selective removal (i.e. all macroalgae) generally promoted recruitment, while selective removal (i.e. Undaria only) had some limited success in reducing overall recruitment. The varied results indicate that the feasibility of limiting Undaria is likely to be very low at sites with established populations and high propagule pressure. However, where there are new incursions, a mixture of cleaning of invaded surfaces prior to normal periods of peak recruitment followed by selective removal may have some potential in limiting Undaria populations within these sites. Multi-factorial experimental manipulations such as this are useful tools for gathering quantitative evidence to support the prioritisation of management measures for marine INNS.