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Behavioural interactions between ecosystem engineers control community species richness


Gribben, PE and Byers, JE and Clements, M and McKenzie, LA and Steinberg, PD and Wright, JT, Behavioural interactions between ecosystem engineers control community species richness, Ecology Letters, 12, (11) pp. 1127-1136. ISSN 1461-023X (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01366.x


Abstract Behavioural interactions between ecosystem engineers may strongly influence community structure. We tested whether an invasive ecosystem engineer, the alga Caulerpa taxifolia, indirectly facilitated community diversity by modifying the behaviour of a native ecosystem engineer, the clam Anadara trapezia, in southeastern Australia. In this study, clams in Caulerpa-invaded sediments partially unburied themselves, extending >30% of their shell surface above the sediment, providing rare, hard substrata for colonization. Consequently, clams in Caulerpa had significantly higher diversity and abundance of epibiota compared with clams in unvegetated sediments. To isolate the role of clam burial depth from direct habitat influences or differential predation by habitat, we manipulated clam burial depth, predator exposure and habitat (Caulerpa or unvegetated) in an orthogonal experiment. Burial depth overwhelmingly influenced epibiont species richness and abundance, resulting in a behaviourally mediated facilitation cascade. That Caulerpa controls epibiont communities by altering Anadara burial depths illustrates that even subtle behavioural responses of one ecosystem engineer to another can drive extensive community-wide facilitation. Keywords Behaviour, bivalves, ecosystem engineer, epibiota, facilitation cascades, habitat-forming species, invasive species, recruitment, trait-mediated indirect effects.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology)
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Wright, JT (Associate Professor Jeffrey Wright)
ID Code:60971
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:78
Deposited By:NC Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability
Deposited On:2010-02-24
Last Modified:2011-10-03

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