Synergistic reduction of a native key herbivore performance by two non-indigenous invasive algae

Tomás Vega Fernández, Fabio Badalamenti, Chiara Bonaviri, Francesco Di Trapani, Paola Gianguzza, Simona Noè, Luigi Musco
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2019, 141: 649-654
Native generalist grazers can control the populations of non-indigenous invasive algae (NIIA). Here, it was found that the simultaneous consumption of two co-occurring NIIA, Caulerpa cylindracea and C. taxifolia var. distichophylla, hinders the grazing ability of the main Mediterranean herbivorous, the native sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. The ingestion of any of the two NIIA alone did not produce any difference in sea urchin righting time with respect to usual algal diet. In contrast, the simultaneous consumption of both NIIA, which grow intermingled in nature and are consumed by P. lividus, retarded its righting behavior. Such result reveals substantial physiological stress in the sea urchin, which resulted in reduced motility and coordination. The reported findings reveal the potential of NIIA co-occurrence to escape the supposed control exerted by the main native generalist grazer in Mediterranean sublittoral communities, which in turn can be locked in an "invaded" state.

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