Faculty Advisor(s)

Linda Auker



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Basibiont organisms form the foundation of marine ecosystems by providing additional space for new species to settle on as epibionts. Invasive epibionts may take advantage of this new basibiont presence, which leads to many harmful effects on native organisms such as competition for both resources and food. In some cases, invasive species facilitate recruitment of other invasive organisms, a phenomenon referred to as invasional meltdown, but it is not known if invasion of new basibionts increases invasive epibiont occurrence. The purpose of this study is to answer the following research questions: 1) does the invasion status of the basibiont alter the frequency of invasive epibiont settling compared to native epibionts, and 2) are there any differences in epibiont diversity on native and invasive basibionts? Per the invasional meltdown phenomenon, it is expected that increased invasion will attract more invasive species into the community. The samples used in this study were gathered from floating docks in Walpole, Maine. All sample specimens used in this study were identified by species and classified by invasion status. For the basibiont specimen the species name, size, and mass were determined. For epibiont specimen, the species name and mass were determined. Analysis of variance, Shannon Diversity Index and other analytical tests were carried out using R studio. While there was no difference in proportion of epibionts that were invasive on the two types of basibionts, there was a significantly more diverse assemblage of epibionts on native basibionts. This is important as we consider how the presence of invasive epibionts structure marine communities. The presence of invasive and native species on invasive basibionts will help us predict future settlement patterns, and determine how newly present invasive species may alter the marine ecosystem.

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Ecology, Invasion, Marine


Biodiversity | Biology | Marine Biology

Effects of Invasional Meltdown on Community Structure in Marine Ecosystems in the Damariscotta Estuary of Maine