Effects of the alien Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) on subtidal macrozoobenthos communities
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Since 2006, the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas has been a permanent resident on the west cost of Sweden. Because C. gigas is nonindigenous in Scandinavia, it may modify ecosystems and affect the resident biota. Individuals of C. gigas often settle in large aggregations, and the physical structure of the resulting reef provides attachment points and refuges for many secondary species. However, C. gigas also has the potential to change the macrofaunal community structure of the associated sediment, for example by stabilization or enrichment of the sediment. Here, we assess the macrozoobenthos community of sediments within C. gigas reefs and contrast the results with the comparable community within beds of the native blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and with that of uniform bare sediment. We show that the communities within oyster reefs and mussel beds contained more species and had a higher abundance of organisms compared with the bare sediment. In addition, we show significant differences between the communities within oyster reefs and mussel beds and consistently a larger total abundance in the former.
KeywordsSpecies Richness Bivalve Total Abundance Blue Mussel Pacific Oyster
J.H. was funded by a Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant (PERG08-GA-2010-276915) and the Royal Physiographic Society in Lund. Å.S. thanks the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (former Swedish Environmental Protection Agency) for funding through Havsmiljöanslaget Dnr. 309-1719-09 and Wåhlströms foundation for financial support. In addition, we thank David Reid for valuable discussion and comments on the manuscript, as well as Mats Lindegarth and Anders Nilsson for statistical advice. We thank two anonymous referees for valuable comments on the manuscript.
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