Global increases in urban development have resulted in severe habitat modification in many estuaries. Most are now dominated by artificial structures, which might have a myriad of effects on native species. The provision of extra hard substrata presents additional free space, and recent research suggests non-indigenous epifauna may be able to exploit these artificial structures (particularly pontoons) more effectively than native species. The early development of fouling assemblages was compared on settlement plates attached to fixed or moving experimental structures at depths of 0.5 m and 2 m. Invertebrate invaders as a group were disproportionately more numerous on shallow, moving plates (essentially floating surfaces) than on deeper plates, whereas native epifauna were less numerous than invaders in all treatments. Importantly, however, individual invasive species showed differing effects of movement and depth. Future management strategies should take into account the potential for shallow, moving structures to enhance invader dominance and strongly consider using fixed structures to reduce opportunities for invaders.
- non-indigenous species
- artificial structures