The role of herbivory and fouling on the invasive green alga Caulerpa filiformis in temperate Australian waters

D. O. Cummings, J. E. Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The green macroalga Caulerpa filiformis is rapidly dominating algal assemblages in shallow subtidal regions along the New South Wales (NSW) coast. Given that invasive species are known for their competitive superiority, the interactions between C. filiformis and herbivores and fouling species was investigated and were compared with those co-occurring native species. Extensive field surveys were carried out to assess purported damage from herbivores, and co-occurrence of C. filiformis with herbivorous fish and invertebrate species. Signs of herbivory on C. filiformis were visible, and several common herbivorous invertebrates and fish co-occurred with the alga. Laboratory and field feeding assays with fresh algae indicated that generalist invertebrate herbivores such as Turbo torquatus did not consume C. filiformis, whereas herbivorous fish did consume C. filiformis but not in preference to other palatable algae. C. filiformis was fouled at similar concentrations and with similar epiphytic species to other co-occurring algae. Thus the ability of C. filiformis to deter herbivory and fouling by using biotic deterrents (both chemical and structural) is limited and unlikely to be the major factor driving its successful invasion into NSW habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Volume59
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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