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Biological Invasions

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 359–368 | Cite as

General Patterns in Invasion Ecology Tested in the Dutch Wadden Sea: The Case of a Brackish-Marine Polychaetous Worm

  • Karel Essink
  • Rob Dekker
Article

Abstract

The success of invasive aquatic species is determined by a variety of attributes such as wide environmental tolerance, high genetic variability, short generation time, early sexual maturity, high reproductive capacity, and a broad diet. Usually, introduced species, after some time lag since inoculation, show an exponential population increase and expansion. Maintenance of the immigrant species at a high population level will be dependent on interspecific competition with native species and availability of habitat and food. Eventually, the immigrant population may decline, for instance due to increased predation pressure, parasite infestation or loss of genetic vigour. These characteristic patterns in invasive species are reviewed for the case of the North American spionid polychaete Marenzelleria cf. wireni in the Dutch Wadden Sea. This species was first recorded in estuaries and coastal waters of the European continent in the Ems estuary (eastern Dutch Wadden Sea) in 1983. In the western part of the Dutch Wadden Sea the first specimens were found in 1989. The Ems estuary population showed the typical lag-phase, explosive increase, stabilisation, and eventual decline. In the western part of the Dutch Wadden Sea the latter two phases have not yet developed. The strong development and stabilisation of the population in the Ems estuary may have been caused by the availability of a yet not utilised food source. The species' final decline remains largely unexplained.

alien species biological invasion Ems estuary interspecific competition intertidal Marenzelleria 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HarenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Netherlands Institute for Sea ResearchDen Burg/TexelThe Netherlands

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