Scientia Marina, Vol 74, No 2 (2010)

Changes in seagrass polychaete assemblages after invasion by Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea (Chlorophyta: Caulerpales): community structure, trophic guilds and taxonomic distinctness

Antonio Box
Laboratorio de Biología Marina, Universidad de las Islas Baleares (UIB) , Spain

Daniel Martin
Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CEAB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) , Spain

Salud Deudero
Laboratorio de Biología Marina, Universidad de las Islas Baleares (UIB) , Spain


A two-year study focusing on the associated polychaete assemblages revealed that the degradation of the Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows, together with the colonisation of rhizomes by invasive Caulerpa racemosa in the Balearic Islands, have produced important changes in the ecosystem functioning, and have therefore affected the benthic faunal communities. The highest abundance and number of species occurred in C. racemosa from August to December. The species composition of the polychaete assemblage in C. racemosa is similar to that of P. oceanica but abundances of shared species differ between Caulerpa and Posidonia. Abundance, number of species and diversity were positively correlated with C. racemosa biomass. The spatial complexity provided by the network of C. racemosa fronds and stolons seemed to combine with that of the remaining seagrass mat to support a well developed polychaete assemblage. Although invaded meadows harboured significantly modified polychaete assemblages when compared with living P. oceanica meadows, the main impacts seem to be non-harmful (i.e. increased abundance and number of species) and mainly affect their seasonal patterns, which is a direct consequence of the corresponding biomass seasonality of C. racemosa.


Posidonia oceanica; Caulerpa racemosa; Polychaeta; species diversity; trophic guilds; taxonomic distinctness; introduced species; Mediterranean

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