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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13499

Impacts of macrozoobenthic invasions on a temperate coastal food web

Alexa Sarina Jung*, Henk W. van der Veer, Catharina J. M. Philippart, Andreas M. Waser, Bruno J. Ens, Victor N. de Jonge,†, Ulrike Schückel

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Invasions of marine species are changing coastal food webs worldwide, impacting on trophic interactions between native species (e.g. predator–prey relationships). Here, the impact of 3 macrozoobenthic invasive species on food web structure and functioning at Balgzand (western Wadden Sea) is quantified by using Ecological Network Analysis (ENA). The bivalves Ensis leei and Magallana gigas were observed for the first time in 1984 and 2001, respectively, and the polychaete Marenzelleria viridis appeared in 1989. Although E. leei and M. viridis reached similar peak biomasses in the 2000s (ca. 1700 and 2000 mg C m-2, respectively), the bivalve consumption was higher (>45% of total consumption) than that of the polychaete (<10%). Biomass and impact of M. gigas remained relatively low. E. leei occupied an ecological niche that was partially empty, which led to competitive advantage with respect to other suspension feeders. Increasing biomass of E. leei coincided with a 70% increase of trophic carbon transfer from primary to secondary producers and an 80% increase from secondary producers to detritus. Carbon flows from secondary producers to higher trophic levels were reduced by more than 60%. These shifts in trophic transfer were stronger than those observed during the invasion of M. gigas in the NE Wadden Sea. At Balgzand, biomass of M. gigas and M. viridis, rapidly declined to low values in the 2010s, implying a temporally limited impact. In the 2010s, E. leei was still responsible for 30% of the total consumption in the 2010s, indicating a longer-term impact.