We report results from a 2-year study on the succession pattern of macrofouling assemblages in the Taranto Sea, an important alien species hotspot in the Mediterranean Sea. Four sets of PVC panels were used as macrofouling collectors; each unit was installed at a different time (April 2013, July 2013, October 2013 and January 2014) and then surveyed quarterly for 1 year. The macrofouling community consisted of 93 sessile invertebrate species, of which 16 were NIS and five were cryptogenic. In both years non-indigenous species (NIS) recruitment occurred mainly in the quarter July/October in concert with the settlement of pioneer autochthonous species. This recruitment is independent of immersion time, occurring on both bare substrates and on previously colonized panels. This increase in NIS coverage is influenced by the development stage of the community, suggesting that NIS grow better without potential competitors. Two sets of NIS were distinguished. The first included abundant ascidians, serpulids, and bryozoans that are structuring components of early communities when favorable conditions exist (i.e. a lack of competitive autochthonous species). After settlement, these species are unable to develop in laterstage communities. The second set of NIS was composed of sabellid worms that settle in early and late communities but, unlike the other NIS, are able to persist and become dominant in late macrofouling communities independent of seasonal changes.
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