Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 937–961 | Cite as

Seasonal non-indigenous species succession in a marine macrofouling invertebrate community

  • M. LezziEmail author
  • M. Del Pasqua
  • C. Pierri
  • A. Giangrande
Original Paper


We report results from a 2-year study on the succession pattern of macrofouling assemblages in the Taranto Sea, an important alien species hotspot in the Mediterranean Sea. Four sets of PVC panels were used as macrofouling collectors; each unit was installed at a different time (April 2013, July 2013, October 2013 and January 2014) and then surveyed quarterly for 1 year. The macrofouling community consisted of 93 sessile invertebrate species, of which 16 were NIS and five were cryptogenic. In both years non-indigenous species (NIS) recruitment occurred mainly in the quarter July/October in concert with the settlement of pioneer autochthonous species. This recruitment is independent of immersion time, occurring on both bare substrates and on previously colonized panels. This increase in NIS coverage is influenced by the development stage of the community, suggesting that NIS grow better without potential competitors. Two sets of NIS were distinguished. The first included abundant ascidians, serpulids, and bryozoans that are structuring components of early communities when favorable conditions exist (i.e. a lack of competitive autochthonous species). After settlement, these species are unable to develop in later-stage communities. The second set of NIS was composed of sabellid worms that settle in early and late communities but, unlike the other NIS, are able to persist and become dominant in late macrofouling communities independent of seasonal changes.


Macrofouling Alien species Mediterranean sea Biological invasions 



The authors thank Justin Hillard and Chaise Lawson from Texas A&M University at Galveston for their help in the revision of the English of the manuscript. The authors thank Dr. F. Mastrototaro for suggestions in Tunicata identification. The authors thank the two anonymous referees and the editor, Dr. James Carlton, whose remarks and comments contributed to a great improvement of the readability of this article.

Author contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: ML, AG, and DP; Taxa Identification: Polychaeta: ML, AG, MDP; Crustacea: ML, MDP; Tunicata: ML; Porifera: ML, DP; Bryozoa: ML; Analysed the data: ML; Wrote the paper: ML, AG, MDP and DP.

Supplementary material

10530_2017_1601_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (8 mb)
Fig. 1 Panels collected at 0-meter depth in October 2013 after 63 months of immersion. (JPEG 8234 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DiSTeBAUniversità del Salento, CoNISMaLecceItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità di BariBariItaly

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