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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 225:189-195 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps225189

Effects of competition between two introduced Caulerpa

Luigi Piazzi1, Giulia Ceccherelli2,*

1Dipartimento dell¹Uomo e dell¹Ambiente, Università di Pisa, via A Volta 6, Pisa 56126, Italy
2Dipartimento di Botanica ed Ecologia Vegetale, Università di Sassari, via F Muroni 25, Sassari 07100, Italy
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Competitive interactions between 2 introduced algae, Caulerpa taxifolia and C. racemosa, were studied in 2 experiments. The first separately evaluated the interspecific and intraspecific effects on both species by manipulating their abundance. The second investigated the fate of fragments of C. taxifolia transplanted into patches of C. racemosa, in contrast to those established on algal turfs. C. racemosa and C. taxifolia had similar temporal trends in growth but reached different sizes. The overall increase in stolon length at higher densities for both species suggested that positive interactions are very important. However, there was a significant interspecific effect on C. taxifolia stolon length but no effect on C. racemosa. Furthermore, C. taxifolia fragments transplanted into C. racemosa patches showed clear signs of stress with respect to those transplanted into algal turfs: blades became blanched and eroded. Overall, the results of this study suggest that growth increases with density augmentation, therefore suggesting that invasive characteristics of the species may increase with the time of colonisation. Both species tend to spread faster at higher density. Overall, where both species co-occur, we predict that C. racemosa would be the favoured species as regards the outcome of competition.

KEY WORDS: Caulerpa taxifolia · Caulerpa racemosa · Competition · Introduced species · Positive interaction

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