The invasive green alga Avrainvillea sp. transforms native epifauna and algal communities on a tropical hard substrate reef.
Some introduced species compete directly with native species for resources and their spread can alter communities, while others do not proliferate and remain benign. This study compares community structure and diversity in adjacent areas dominated by the introduced alga Avrainvillea sp. or native algal species on a hard substrate reef. The biomass and species composition of 15 paired plots (30 in total, plot type based on dominance of Avrainvillea sp. or native species) were quantified. Plots dominated by Avrainvillea sp. had a significantly different assemblage of species characterized by lower algal diversity, mostly Dictyota spp. and Laurencia sp., and a higher abundance and diversity of invertebrates, such as small arthropods, polychaetes, and brittlestars. These results suggest that as Avrainvillea sp. becomes more abundant on hard substrate reefs, it will engineer a different community composed of algal epiphytes and an invertebrate assemblage more typically associated with algae in soft sediments.