Scale-dependent relationships between native richness, resource stability and exotic cover in dock fouling communities of Washington, USA
In terrestrial plant communities, the relationship between native species diversity and exotic success is typically scale-dependent. It is often proposed that within local neighbourhoods, high native diversity limits resources, thereby inhibiting exotic success. However, environmental variation that manifests over space or time can create positive correlations between native diversity and exotic success at larger scales. In marine habitats, there have been few multi-scale surveys of this pattern, so it is unclear how diversity, resource limitation and the environment influence the success of exotic species in these systems. Location
Washington, USA. Methods
I analysed nested spatial and temporal surveys of fouling communities, which are assemblages of sessile marine invertebrates, to test whether the relationships between native richness, resource availability and exotic cover supported the diversity-stability and diversity-resistance theories, to test whether these relationships changed with spatio-temporal scale, and to explore the temperature preferences of native and exotic fouling species. Results
Survey data failed to support diversity-stability theory: space availability actually increased with native richness at the local neighbourhood scale, and neither space availability nor variability decreased with native richness across larger spatio-temporal scales. I did find support for diversity-resistance theory, as richness negatively correlated with exotic cover in local neighbourhoods. Unexpectedly, this negative correlation disappeared at intermediate scales, but emerged again at the regional scale. This scale-dependent pattern could be partially explained by contrasting water temperature preferences of native and exotic species. Main conclusions
Within local neighbourhoods, native diversity may inhibit exotic abundance, but the mechanism is unlikely related to resource limitation. At the largest scale, correlations suggest that native richness is higher in cooler environments, whereas exotic richness is higher in warmer environments. This large-scale pattern contrasts with the typical plant community pattern, and has important implications for coastal management in the face of global climate change.