TITLE

Effects of the alien algae Undaria pinnatifida (Phaeophyceae, Laminariales) on the diversity and abundance of benthic macrofauna in Golfo Nuevo (Patagonia, Argentina): potential implications for local food webs

AUTHOR(S)
Irigoyen, Alejo J.; Trobbiani, Gastón; Sgarlatta, Maria P.; Raffo, Maria P.
PUB. DATE
July 2011
SOURCE
Biological Invasions;Jul2011, Vol. 13 Issue 7, p1521
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Changes in macroalgal community structure caused by invasive seaweeds have strong impacts on the associated macrofauna due to the role of macroalgae as autogenic ecosystem engineers. This study investigates the effect of Undaria pinnatifida on the abundance and diversity of benthic macrofauna in Golfo Nuevo, northern Patagonia, using a manipulative experiment involving the systematic removal of Undaria microthalli from strips of hard bottom during its eighth-month growing period. Species richness and diversity were higher in plots covered by Undaria than when Undaria was removed. Also, the abundance of two species of crustaceans, one species of sea urchin, one species of nemertina and several species of polychaetes was higher. We attribute these effects to the provision of new habitat structure by Undaria, a larger and structurally more complex species than the local native seaweeds. These results support the hypothesis that complex habitats enhance abundance and species richness, by offering different shelter and foraging opportunities compared to morphologically simpler habitats. Based on a review of diet studies in the region, we speculate that Undaria could potentially produce a bottom-up effect on local food chains by increasing abundance of prey for a wide variety of predators, from invertebrates to marine mammals. While our study has a narrow temporal and spatial scale, we expect similar effects of Undaria on the macrofauna in other sites of the Argentine coast, especially those dominated by small native macroalgae.
ACCESSION #
60903646

 

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