, Volume 12, Issue 7, pp 2165-2177

Differential reproductive investment, attachment strength and mortality of invasive and indigenous mussels across heterogeneous environments

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Abstract

Environmental heterogeneity challenges both indigenous species and invaders and can play a defining role in the dynamics of their interactions. We compare bay and open coast habitats to show how environmental heterogeneity and seasonality affect survival and physiological performances of invasive (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and indigenous (Perna perna) intertidal mussels. P. perna had significantly higher attachment strength than M. galloprovincialis. Attachment was strongly correlated with hydrodynamic stress and was lower for both species in bays. Both species had a major spawning event when wave action was weakest. In bays, there was no correlation between gonad index (GI) and attachment strength for either species, but on the open coast GI was negatively correlated with attachment. In bays, maximum GI of M. galloprovincialis was 64% higher than for P. perna, while on the open coast values did not differ between the two. Thus, on the open coast, both species invest more energy in attachment but P. perna can accommodate energetic demands of increased byssal production without altering gonad production, while M. galloprovincialis cannot. Mortality was significantly correlated to sand stress, while the correlation with wave action was very weak in bays and non-significant on the open coast probably because sand stress peaked during periods of low wave action. The success of the invader and thus the outcomes of its interaction with the indigenous species are governed by habitat-to-habitat variability. In this case the invasive species is likely to prove a weaker competitor on the more stressful and energetically demanding open coast.

K. R. Nicastro and G. I. Zardi have contributed equally to the work.