Epiphyte and herbivore interactions impact recruitment in a marine subtidal system

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Marine assemblages are influenced by the rate and timing of species settlement and recruitment. Both abiotic factors and biotic interactions can impact recruitment rates of marine species in a variety of systems. However, the impacts of species which recruit at the same time upon each other are less well understood. We investigated the relationship between the recruitment of Lacuna vincta, a small (<6 mm shell diameter) marine snail, and two species of algal epiphytes, the native Ceramium virgatum and the invasive Neosiphonia harveyi, in the shallow subtidal zone of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. All three species exhibit peak recruitment densities during two months in the summer. We found that the presence of algal epiphytes facilitates the recruitment rate of L. vincta, regardless of the epiphyte species composition. We also found a positive relationship between the number of L. vincta present and epiphyte recruitment, which is disproportionately driven by higher recruitment of N. harveyi than C. virgatum. Understanding recruitment dynamics and interactions is vital to effectively mitigate the effects of and adaptations to changes due to the establishment of non-native species. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Aquatic Ecology