Native species behaviour mitigates the impact of habitat-forming invasive seaweed

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Journal Article
Oecologia, 2010, 163 (2), pp. 527 - 534
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Habitat-forming invasive species cause large, novel changes to the abiotic environment. These changes may elicit important behavioural responses in native fauna, yet little is known about mechanisms driving this behaviour and how such trait-mediated responses influence the fitness of native species. Low dissolved oxygen is a key abiotic change created by the habitat-forming invasive seaweed, Caulerpa taxifolia, which influences an important behavioural response (burrowing depth) in the native infaunal bivalve Anadara trapezia. In Caulerpa-colonised areas, Anadara often emerged completely from the sediment, and we experimentally demonstrate that water column hypoxia beneath the Caulerpa canopy is the mechanism instigating this pop-up behaviour. Importantly, pop-up in Caulerpa allowed similar survivorship to that in unvegetated sediment; however, when we prevented Anadara from popping-up, they suffered >50% mortality in just 1 month. Our findings not only highlight the substantial environmental alteration by Caulerpa, but also an important role for the behaviour of native species in mitigating the effects of habitat-forming invasive species.
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