Marine Biology

, Volume 144, Issue 4, pp 747–756 | Cite as

Interaction and impacts of two introduced species on a soft-sediment marine assemblage in SE Tasmania

  • D. J. RossEmail author
  • C. R. Johnson
  • C. L. Hewitt
  • G. M. Ruiz
Research Article


Introduced species are having major impacts in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems world-wide. It is increasingly recognised that effects of multiple species often cannot be predicted from the effect of each species alone, due to complex interactions, but most investigations of invasion impacts have examined only one non-native species at a time and have not addressed the interactive effects of multiple species. We conducted a field experiment to compare the individual and combined effects of two introduced marine predators, the northern Pacific seastar Asterias amurensis and the European green crab Carcinus maenas, on a soft-sediment invertebrate assemblage in Tasmania. Spatial overlap in the distribution of these invaders is just beginning in Tasmania, and appears imminent as their respective ranges expand, suggesting a strong overlap in food resources will result from the shared proclivity for bivalve prey. A. amurensis and C. maenas provide good models to test the interaction between multiple introduced predators, because they leave clear predator-specific traces of their predatory activity for a number of common prey taxa (bivalves and gastropods). Our experiments demonstrate that both predators had a major effect on the abundance of bivalves, reducing populations of the commercial bivalves Fulvia tenuicostata and Katelysia rhytiphora. The interaction between C. maenas and A. amurensis appears to be one of resource competition, resulting in partitioning of bivalves according to size between predators, with A. amurensis consuming the large and C. maenas the small bivalves. At a large spatial scale, we predict that the combined effect on bivalves may be greater than that due to each predator alone simply because their combined distribution is likely to cover a broader range of habitats. At a smaller scale, in the shallow subtidal, where spatial overlap is expected to be most extensive, our results indicate the individual effects of each predator are likely to be modified in the presence of the other as densities increase. These results further highlight the need to consider the interactive effects of introduced species, especially with continued increases in the number of established invasions.


Bivalve Polychaete Cage Control Crab Predation Suction Sample 
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 thank the many volunteers and co-workers who braved the cold waters of King George Sound, without whose help this project would not have been possible, particularly N. Murfet and P. Dunstan. Special thanks go to S. Scott for her tireless hours of sorting samples and L. Turner, G. Edgar and C. Macleod for help with the identification of invertebrates. This manuscript benefited from discussions with and comments from R. Thresher and C. Procter. This work was supported by funds from the CSIRO Marine Research Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests (awarded to C.R.J.) and the School of Zoology, University of Tasmania. This work was undertaken as part the senior author’s Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Tasmania, who was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award. The experiments we performed comply with the current laws of Australia, conducted on a permit for introduced species research issued under section 14 of the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 in Tasmania.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. J. Ross
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • C. R. Johnson
    • 1
  • C. L. Hewitt
    • 2
    • 5
  • G. M. Ruiz
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Zoology and Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries InstituteUniversity of TasmaniaSandy BayAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Research on Introduced Marine PestsCSIRO Marine ResearchHobartAustralia
  3. 3.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA
  4. 4.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Ministry of FisheriesWellingtonNew Zealand

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