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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 486:93-103 (2013)  -  DOI:

Invasion success of the seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla correlates with low palatibility

Mareike Hammann1,*, Gaoge Wang2, Esther Rickert1, Sung Min Boo3, Florian Weinberger1

1Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (GEOMAR), Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
2College of Marine Life Sciences, Ocean University of China, 5 Yushan Road, 266003 Qingdao, China
3Department of Biology, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Korea

ABSTRACT: Differences with respect to anti-herbivore defense were investigated in invasive and native populations of the seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla. S pecimens from 6 native populations in East Asia and from 8 populations invasive in Europe and the Mexican Pacific coast were maintained under identical conditions and offered to herbivorous snails from both the native range (Littorina brevicula) and Europe (L. littorea) in no-choice feeding assays. L. brevicula consumed in total significantly larger amounts of G. vermiculophylla tissue than did L. littorea. Further, both snail species least consumed the seaweed specimens originating from either non-native populations or from populations native to the Korean East Sea/Sea of Japan. The Korean East Sea/Sea of Japan had previously been identified as putative donor region of all the invasive populations of G. vermiculophylla. Thus, populations in the donor region as well as non-native populations in different invaded realms feature an increased capacity to resist feeding pressure. Differences in nutrient content did not account for the observed patterns of consumption, as palatability and carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio were not significantly correlated. Thus, mechanical or chemical defenses or the content of feeding cues influenced the behavior of the snails. We suggest that low palatability contributed to the invasion success of the species.

KEY WORDS: Biological invasion · Invasive seaweeds · Enemy release hypothesis · Novel weapons hypothesis · Herbivory · Gracilaria vermiculophylla

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Cite this article as: Hammann M, Wang G, Rickert E, Boo SM, Weinberger F (2013) Invasion success of the seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla correlates with low palatibility. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 486:93-103.

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