, Volume 842, Issue 1, pp 101–112 | Cite as

Colonization dynamic on experimental limestone substrata: the role of encrusting epilithics favouring boring polychaetes

  • Edoardo CasoliEmail author
  • Sandra Ricci
  • Federica Antonelli
  • Carlotta Sacco Perasso
  • Giandomenico Ardizzone
  • Maria Flavia Gravina
Primary Research Paper


Polychaetes inhabit all the marine benthic communities and play a significant role in the degradation of calcareous substrates in marine environment. Colonization dynamics of encrusting epibenthos and polychaete assemblages on limestone experimental substrates were studied over a 3-year period in a Marine Protected Area: the Underwater Archaeological Park of Baiae (central Tyrrhenian Sea). Competitive and encrusting organisms replaced the pioneer species, dominating the epilithic community, and increasing the available surface. Polychaetes increased in species number over time. Several boring specimens of the species Polydora ciliata and Dodecaceria concharum were responsible for the bioerosion of the calcareous material. The former species characterized the early stage of the succession, whereas the latter settled during the late stages, together with the nestler species Lysidice unicornis, whose boring activity has been hypothesized. Four different surface trace morphologies attributable to boring polychaetes are here reported and described. The number of the polychaete boring traces increased according to the surface covered by ascidians, barnacles, and bryozoans. The present work provides evidence regarding positive interactions between encrusting epibenthic organisms and endolithic worms.


Boring polychaetes Epilithic community Encrusting epibenthos Polydora ciliata Dodecaceria concharum Mediterranean Sea 



Our thanks go to Daniela Silvia Pace, Daniele Ventura, Gianluca Mancini, and Andrea Belluscio for their help during this work. We acknowledge the three anonymous Reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental BiologySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Biology LaboratoryIstituto Superiore per la Conservazione e per il Restauro (ISCR)RomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Innovation of Biological Systems, Food and Forestry (DIBAF)Tuscia UniversityViterboItaly
  4. 4.Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione e per il Restauro (ISCR)RomeItaly
  5. 5.Department of BiologyUniversity of Rome “Tor Vergata”RomeItaly
  6. 6.Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare (CoNISMa)RomeItaly

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