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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 446:119-129 (2012)  -  DOI:

Modified habitats change ecological processes affecting a non-indigenous epibiont

E. M. Marzinelli1,2,*, A. J. Underwood1, R. A. Coleman1

1Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, School of Biological Sciences, Marine Ecology Laboratories A11, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2Present address: Centre for Marine Bio-innovation and Sydney Institute of Marine Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia

ABSTRACT: Urbanisation of coastal habitats, particularly the increased numbers of pier-pilings, jetties and seawalls along shorelines, affects natural systems. Epibiota on secondary substrata (kelps, Ecklonia radiata) in man-made structures differ from those in natural habitats, but they have received considerably less attention. To understand the consequences of changes in the structure of these assemblages, it is therefore necessary to determine which ecological processes are being affected and the factors influencing them. In Sydney Harbour, kelps on pier-pilings supported greater covers of bryozoans, particularly of the non-indigenous species Membranipora membranacea, than found on natural reefs. Experimental transplants of kelps without epibiota from reefs to pilings showed that recruitment and growth of colonies of M. membranacea were much greater on pilings than on reefs. Patterns of distribution and abundance of this epibiotic bryozoan are determined by a combination of these processes and probably influenced by differences in abiotic and biotic characteristics between habitats. Understanding how these components of habitats affect ecological processes is necessary to allow sensible prediction of the effects of modifying habitats on the ecology of organisms.

KEY WORDS: Urbanisation · Modification of habitat · Kelp · Epibiota · Bryozoans · Recruitment · Growth

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Cite this article as: Marzinelli EM, Underwood AJ, Coleman RA (2012) Modified habitats change ecological processes affecting a non-indigenous epibiont. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 446:119-129.

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