Invasions in Marine Communities: Contrasting Species Richness and Community Composition Across Habitats and Salinity
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While many studies of non-native species have examined either soft-bottom or hard-bottom marine communities, including artificial structures at docks and marinas, formal comparisons across these habitat types are rare. The number of non-indigenous species (NIS) may differ among habitats, due to differences in species delivery (trade history) and susceptibility to invasions. In this study, we quantitatively compared NIS to native species richness and distribution and examined community similarity across hard-bottom and soft-sediment habitats in San Francisco Bay, California (USA). Benthic invertebrates were sampled using settlement panels (hard-bottom habitats) and sediment grabs (soft-bottom habitats) in 13 paired sites, including eight in higher salinity areas and five in lower salinity areas during 2 years. Mean NIS richness was greatest in hard-bottom habitat at high salinity, being significantly higher than each (a) native species at high salinity and (b) NIS richness at low salinity. In contrast, mean NIS richness in soft-bottom communities was not significantly different from native species richness in either high- or low-salinity waters, nor was there a difference in NIS richness between salinities. For hard-bottom communities, NIS represented an average of 79% of total species richness per sample at high salinity and 78% at low salinity, whereas the comparable values for soft bottom were 46 and 60%, respectively. On average, NIS occurred at a significantly higher frequency (percent of samples) than native species for hard-bottom habitats at both salinities, but this was not the case for soft-bottom habitats. Finally, NIS contributed significantly to the existing community structure (dissimilarity) across habitat types and salinities. Our results show that NIS richness and occurrence frequency is highest in hard-bottom and high-salinity habitat for this Bay but also that NIS contribute strongly to species richness and community structure across each habitat evaluated.
KeywordsNIS Invasions Estuaries Soft sediments Hard bottoms Community structure
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