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The colonial ascidian Diplosoma listerianum enhances the occurrence of the hydrozoan Obelia sp. during early phases of succession

Krüger, I., Lenz, M., Thiel, M.
Helgoland marine research 2018 v.72 no.1 pp. 4
Hydrozoa, larvae, tiles, Chile
Recruitment patterns of sessile species often do not reflect the composition of the local propagule pool. This is, among other processes, attributed to the stimulation or inhibition of settlement by resident species. In an experimental study, we evaluated the effects of different densities of the ascidian Diplosoma listerianum on the settlement of the hydrozoan Obelia sp. For this, we monitored the cover of the dominant fouler Obelia sp. on vertically orientated PVC tiles, which were either bare or pre-seeded with two different densities (sparse or dense) of Diplosoma colonies, over the course of 8 weeks. The settlement tiles were deployed at two study sites in La Herradura Bay, Chile. The presence of D. listerianum enhanced the settlement or the growth or both of the colonial hydrozoan, but this effect disappeared within 4–8 weeks. Furthermore, we tested whether the initial enhancement of Obelia sp. by Diplosoma colonies goes back to the fact that larvae, which reject the ascidian tunic as a settlement substratum after a first contact, colonize nearby surfaces because of their limited mobility. However, we found no support for this assumption. We rather suggest that D. listerianum facilitated colonization indirectly by the accumulation of organic material in its vicinity and/or by its pumping activity. Initial resident-mediated enhancement of the hydrozoan was overridden by processes such as competition between later colonizers within the course of weeks and we could not detect any lasting effects of D. listerianum on the structure of the developing communities.