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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 390 - Feature article
The epiphytic bryozoan Membranipora membranacea encrusting blades of kelp Saccharina longicruris in Nova Scotia. Photo: Robert Scheibling

Scheibling RE, Gagnon P


Temperature-mediated outbreak dynamics of the invasive bryozoan Membranipora membranacea in Nova Scotian kelp beds


On the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, seasonal outbreaks of an invasive epiphytic bryozoan Membranipora membranacea have lead to extensive defoliation of native kelp beds. Scheibling & Gagnon examined reciprocal changes in the cover of the bryozoan on kelp, and in the cover of kelp on the seabed, for 11 years following the first observation of M. membranacea in Nova Scotia in 1992. Severe outbreaks associated with particularly warm sea temperatures during the summer/fall period of bryozoan colony growth greatly reduce kelp cover, density and size. Recurrent outbreaks throughout the 1990s have had a devastating effect on kelp beds on this coast; this in turn has facilitated the establishment and growth of an invasive green alga Codium fragile ssp. fragile.


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