Range expansion of a fouling species indirectly impacts local species interactions

Citation metadata

Date: Oct. 19, 2017
From: PeerJ(Vol. 5)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Report
Length: 4,165 words
Lexile Measure: 1530L

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

We investigated how recent changes in the distribution and abundance of a fouling organism affected the strength of interactions between a commercially important foundation species and a common predator. Increases in the abundance of boring sponges that bioerode the calcified shells of oysters and other shelled organisms have been attributed to increased salinization of estuarine ecosystems. We tested the hypothesis that fouling by boring sponges will change the interaction strength between oysters and a common predator (stone crabs). We generated five oyster density treatments crossed with two sponge treatments (sponge and no sponge). We contrasted the interaction strength between stone crabs and fouled and non-fouled oysters by comparing the parameters of fitted functional response curves based on Rogers random predation model. We found that fouled oysters suffered higher predation from stone crabs, and that the increased predation risk stemmed from a reduction in the handling time needed to consume the fouled oysters. These findings highlight the importance of understanding the effects of abiotic changes on both the composition of ecological communities, and on the strengths of direct and indirect interactions among species. Global climate change is altering local ecosystems in complex ways, and the success of restoration, management, and mitigation strategies for important species requires a better appreciation for how these effects cascade through ecosystems.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A510315578