Diversity, Invasibility, and Resource Use in Marine Fouling Communities of San Francisco Bay

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Invasive species threaten the biodiversity of estuaries worldwide. To examine the relationships between biodiversity, invasibility, and invasion success, I conducted field surveys and experiments in San Francisco Bay marine fouling communities, including 1) surveys to estimate alpha, gamma, and beta diversity of native, non-native and cryptogenic components of the community; 2) experiments to assess the influence of diversity and resource availability on short-term recruitment of novel non-indigenous species (NIS) into test communities and subsequent community development over time; and 3) an experiment to explore the role of facilitative interactions of NIS in the diversity-invasibility relationship. Surveys (10-24 sites) showed that non-native alpha diversity was significantly greater than native or cryptogenic alpha diversity, beta diversity was significantly greater for native and cryptogenic species than for NIS, and gamma diversity was similar for NIS and native species. These results indicate that native species had high turn over from site to site while NIS were spread throughout the Bay. Experiments showed that on short time scales (2-4 weeks), the effect of initial diversity on the density of recruitment of NIS was significant and negative, with no effect of resource level (increased open space). Changes in community composition over time (2-24 weeks) also indicated significant inverse relationships between percent cover of NIS and diversity of the initial community with no evidence of a resource effect. Abundant NIS occupied less space in communities with higher initial diversity. However, the same NIS occupied (i.e., had invaded) all experimental communities regardless of starting diversity. Additional experiments revealed that recruitment to secondary substrates did not vary significantly with invasive species diversity or resource availability. When total recruitment to primary and secondary substrates were combined, there was no longer a significant relationship between diversity and recruitment. Analysis of secondary settlement patterns revealed that some NIS, such as Bugula neritina, were facilitating recruitment and settlement of additional NIS. In contrast, other species, such as Clathria prolifera and Botryllus schlosseri, inhibited secondary settlement of NIS. The influence of diversity and primary resource availability on secondary settlement did not appear to affect settlement on facilitative species, but reduced settlement on inhibitive species.