Relationships between an invasive crab, habitat availability and intertidal community structure at biogeographic scales
Gribben, PE and Simpson, M and Wright, JT, Relationships between an invasive crab, habitat availability and intertidal community structure at biogeographic scales, Marine Environmental Research, 110 pp. 124-131. ISSN 0141-1136 (2015) [Refereed Article]
At local scales, habitat availability influences interactions between native and invasive species. Habitat availability may also predict patterns in native communities and invasive species at biogeographic scales when both native and invasive species have specific habitat requirements. The New Zealand porcelain crab, Petrolisthes elongatus, has invaded intertidal rocky shores around Tasmania, Australia, where it is found in high densities (>1800 m2) under rocks. A hierarchical sampling approach was used to investigate 1) the relationship between habitat availability (rock cover) and the biomass and abundance of P. elongatus, and 2) the relationship between P. elongatus biomass and native communities at local and regional scales. Invertebrate communities and habitat availability were sampled at multiple sites in the north and south regions of Tasmania. P. elongatus biomass and abundance were positively correlated with rock cover and patterns were consistent at the biogeographic scale (between regions). P. elongatus biomass was positively correlated with native species richness, biomass and abundance highlighting their co-dependence on rock cover. However, multivariate analyses indicated a different native community structure with increasing P. elongatus biomass. Flat, strongly adhering gastropods (chitons and limpets) were positively correlated with P. elongatus biomass, whereas mobile gastropods and crabs were negatively correlated with P. elongatus biomass. Despite local scale variation, there were clear consistent relationships between habitat-availability and the biomass of P. elongatus, and between native communities and the biomass of P. elongatus suggesting that the relationships between native and invasive species may be predictable at large spatial scales. Moreover, the strong relationships between P. elongatus biomass and changes in native community structure suggest a greater understanding of its impact is needed so that appropriate management plans can be developed.