Remedial habitat creation: does Nereis diversicolor play a confounding role in the colonisation and establishment of the pioneering saltmarsh plant, Spartina anglica?
Increasing concerns over global warming and expected sea level rises have led to the adoption of new coastal management strategies around the south-east coast of England. This paper explores the role played by the estuarine invertebrate Nereis diversicolor in limiting the colonisation and establishment of the invasive pioneering salt marsh plant, Spartina anglica. The biology of N. diversicolor is briefly reviewed and data from field experiments are presented demonstrating significant negative effects of worm abundance on transplanted S. anglica biomass. Laboratory-based experiments demonstrated significant negative effects of N. diversicolor abundance on the survival of S. anglica seeds transplanted to sediment cores. The importance of estuarine invertebrates in engineering the mudflat habitat may confound the foreseen ecosystem services and function provided by saltmarsh management schemes.