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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 63(3)

Differences in anti-predator traits of a native bivalve following invasion by a habitat-forming seaweed

Jeffrey T. Wright A B , James E. Byers C D , Loni P. Koukoumaftsis A and Paul E. Gribben E

A Institute for Conservation Biology and School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.
B National Centre for Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability, Australian Maritime College, University of Tasmania, PO Box 986, Launceston, Tas. 7250, Australia.
C University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA.
D Present address: Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
E Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, School of the Environment, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW 2007 Australia.
F Corresponding author. Email: jeff.wright@amc.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 63(3) 246-250 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF11184
Submitted: 19 August 2011  Accepted: 3 November 2011   Published: 13 December 2011

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Invasive habitat-forming species cause large changes to the abiotic environment, which may lead to lethal and sublethal effects on native fauna. In this study, we tested whether morphological anti-predator traits of an infaunal bivalve, Anadara trapezia, differed between areas invaded by the habitat-forming seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia and uninvaded habitats in estuaries in New South Wales, Australia. Caulerpa changes the abiotic environment in ways that may affect traits of native species. In particular, there is lower water flow, lower dissolved oxygen in the water and sediments are more silty and anoxic than in unvegetated habitat. To test our hypotheses, we collected Anadara from Caulerpa and uninvaded habitats and measured shell thickness, shell strength and resistance to opening of valves. We found that all three traits were reduced in Anadara from Caulerpa habitat compared with Anadara from uninvaded habitats. These findings are consistent with the idea that trait modifications in native fauna in response to invasive habitat-forming species can potentially increase susceptibility to predation.

Additional keywords: Anadara trapezia, bivalve, Caulerpa taxifolia, invasive seaweed, predation, shell strength, traits.


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