, Volume 163, Issue 2, pp 527–534 | Cite as

Native species behaviour mitigates the impact of habitat-forming invasive seaweed

  • Jeffrey T. Wright
  • James E. Byers
  • Loni P. Koukoumaftsis
  • Peter J. Ralph
  • Paul E. Gribben
Global change ecology - Original Paper


Habitat-forming invasive species cause large, novel changes to the abiotic environment. These changes may elicit important behavioural responses in native fauna, yet little is known about mechanisms driving this behaviour and how such trait-mediated responses influence the fitness of native species. Low dissolved oxygen is a key abiotic change created by the habitat-forming invasive seaweed, Caulerpa taxifolia, which influences an important behavioural response (burrowing depth) in the native infaunal bivalve Anadara trapezia. In Caulerpa-colonised areas, Anadara often emerged completely from the sediment, and we experimentally demonstrate that water column hypoxia beneath the Caulerpa canopy is the mechanism instigating this “pop-up” behaviour. Importantly, pop-up in Caulerpa allowed similar survivorship to that in unvegetated sediment; however, when we prevented Anadara from popping-up, they suffered >50% mortality in just 1 month. Our findings not only highlight the substantial environmental alteration by Caulerpa, but also an important role for the behaviour of native species in mitigating the effects of habitat-forming invasive species.


Ecosystem engineers Hypoxia Infauna Marine algae Soft-sediment ecology 



Support was provided by the Institute for Conservation Biology, University of Wollongong to J.T.W., L.P.K. and J.E.B.; the National Geographic Society to J.E.B.; and the University of Technology-Sydney to P.E.G. Comments from Geoffrey Trussell and three anonymous reviewers greatly improved the previous draft of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey T. Wright
    • 1
    • 2
  • James E. Byers
    • 3
    • 4
  • Loni P. Koukoumaftsis
    • 1
  • Peter J. Ralph
    • 5
  • Paul E. Gribben
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute for Conservation Biology and School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.National Centre for Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability, Australian Maritime CollegeUniversity of TasmaniaLauncestonAustralia
  3. 3.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Odum School of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  5. 5.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia

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