, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 523-544
Date: 29 Nov 2006

A tale of three seas: consistency of natural history traits in a Caribbean–Atlantic barnacle introduced to Hawaii

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Abstract

Predictive models in invasion biology rely on knowledge of the life history and ecological role of invading species. However, species may change in key traits as they invade a new region, making prediction difficult. For marine invertebrate invaders there have been too few comparative studies to determine whether change in key traits is the exception or the rule. Here we examined populations of the intertidal barnacle Chthamalus proteus in three locations in its native range in the Caribbean and Atlantic, and in the Hawaiian Islands, where it has recently invaded, as a model system for such comparative studies. We measured body size, fecundity, population density and vertical distribution, compared habitat use and investigated aspects of the barnacle’s ecological role in Curaçao, Panama and Brazil and the main Hawaiian Islands. In terms of these measures, the barnacle has undergone little change in its invasion of Hawaii. Thus, if this barnacle had been studied in its native range, predictions about its spread in Hawaii could have been made. As little was known about this barnacle in either its native range or Hawaii, we also carried out studies of its larval life history, fecundity, growth, and mortality. Based on this work, we predict that this barnacle will continue to spread, aided by vessel traffic, throughout the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere in the Pacific.