Settlement sites, survival and effects on benthos of an introduced reef-building polychaete in a SW Atlantic coastal lagoon
Ficopomatus enigmaticus is a cosmopolitan, reef-building serpulid polychaete introduced to the Mar Chiquita coastal lagoon, Argentina, before 1970. Today reefs of this species cover approximately 80% of the lagoon. Each reef is up to 4 m in diameter and 0.5 m high and is formed of thousands of calcareous tubes of F. enigmaticus. We investigated through experiments and observation the selection of settlement substrate by F. enigmaticus larvae and their effect on the benthic community. Settlement sites were primarily shells of the gastropod Adelomelon brasiliana and secondarily the bivalves Mactra isabelleana and Tagelus plebeius, but long-term survival was mainly found in the inner area of A. brasiliana shells, suggesting the importance of refuge. Large population of the amphipod Melita palmata and the gastropod Littoridina parchappi lived between the F. enigmaticus tubes. The most common benthic polychaete species inhabiting the sediment around the reefs showed variation in density (Heteromastus similis and Laeonereis acuta decreased whereas Nephtys fluviatilis increased) as the result of distance from the reefs. The abundance of adult crabs (Cyrtograpsus angulatus) was much higher underneath the reefs than in the sediment around the reefs. Reefs largely increased habitat structure, modifying the abundance of species that inhabit in shelters and changed the pattern of distribution of soft-bottom species.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2000-07-01
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