Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 5, pp 997–1010 | Cite as

Differential tolerance to metals among populations of the introduced bryozoan Bugula neritina

  • Richard F. PiolaEmail author
  • Emma L. Johnston
Research Article


Resistance to heavy metals is a potentially important trait for introduced marine organisms, facilitating their successful invasion into disturbed natural communities. We conducted laboratory and field experiments to examine differential resistance to copper (Cu) between two source populations of the introduced bryozoan Bugula neritina, originating from a polluted (Port Kembla Harbour, NSW, Australia) and an unpolluted (Botany Bay, NSW, Australia) environment. A laboratory toxicity test was conducted to test the relative resistance of B. neritina recruits from the two sources, by measuring the attachment success, survival and growth of individuals exposed to a range of Cu concentrations (0, 25, 50 and 100 μg l−1 Cu). Upon completion, reciprocal transplantation of the colonies to the original polluted and unpolluted locations was carried out to assess ongoing survival and growth of colonies in the field. B. neritina colonies originating from the polluted Port Kembla Harbour had increased resistance to Cu relative to populations from an unpolluted part of Botany Bay. There appeared to be a cost associated with increased metal tolerance. In the laboratory, Botany Bay recruits displayed significantly higher growth in control treatments and significantly poorer growth at 100 μg l−1 Cu with respect to Port Kembla Harbour individuals, which showed unusually uniform and low growth irrespective of Cu concentration. No difference in attachment success or post-metamorphic survival was observed between populations. Field transplantation showed copper resistance in Port Kembla Harbour colonies constituted an advantage in polluted but not benign environments. The findings of this study provide evidence of the benefits to invasive species of pollution tolerance and suggest that human disturbance can facilitate the establishment and spread of invasive species in marine systems.


Heavy Metal Fitness Cost Antifouling Paint Heavy Metal Resistance Cage Treatment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to G. Clark, T. Nelson and K. Lee for their assistance with field and laboratory work. We than K. Gotham, G. Wicks and all the staff of the Caltex Refinery for providing access to Kurnell Pier. We also thank C. Doyle and all the staff of the Port Kembla Ports Authority for access to Port Kembla Harbour. We are indebted to B. Kelaher, G. Clark and K. Wright for their helpful and insightful comments on the original manuscript. R.F.P. was supported throughout this study by an Australian Government Postgraduate Award (APA). This study was partially funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant awarded to E.L.J and a PADI Project AWARE grant awarded to R.F.P.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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