Nonindigenous biota on artificial structures: could habitat creation facilitate biological invasions?
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We identified different distributions of marine nonindigenous species (NIS) and native species on some artificial structures versus natural reefs and using experimental manipulations, revealed some possible causal mechanisms. In well-established subtidal assemblages, numbers of NIS were 1.5–2.5 times greater on pontoons or pilings than on rocky reefs, despite the local species pool of natives being up to 2.5 times greater than that of NIS. Conversely, on reefs and seawalls, numbers of native species were up to three times greater than numbers of NIS. Differential recruitment to different positions and types of surfaces appeared to influence distribution patterns. NIS recruited well to most surfaces, particularly concrete surfaces near the surface of the water, whilst natives occurred infrequently on wooden surfaces. The position of rocky reefs and seawalls close to the shore and to the seabed appeared to make them favourable for the recruitment of natives, but this positioning alone does not hinder the recruitment of NIS. We argue that pontoons and pilings represent beachheads (i.e. entry points for invasion) for many nonindigenous epibiota and so enhance the spread and establishment of NIS in estuaries. Habitat creation in estuaries may, therefore, be a serious threat to native biodiversity.
KeywordsArtificial Structure Rocky Reef Wooden Panel Wooden Piling Native Alga
We thank D. Gordon, P. Mather, G. Rouse and G. Woerheide for help with identifying species, and P. Hutchings, J. Lewis, J. Watson and R. Willan for insights into the native or introduced status of species. All experiments were funded by the Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, and complied with current laws in Australia. Thanks to R. Reinfrank and S. Gartenstein for help with field work. Some ideas in this manuscript have benefited from discussions with F. Bulleri, J.T. Carlton, S. Dworjanyn, M.J. Keough, G. Paloma and G.W. Rouse.
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