Invertebrate communities on historical shipwrecks in the western Atlantic: relation to islands

Kirstin S. Meyer, Sandra D. Brooke, Andrew K. Sweetman, Maya Wolf, Craig M. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Shipwrecks can be considered island-like habitats on the seafloor. We investigated the fauna of eight historical shipwrecks off the east coast of the U.S. to assess whether species distribution patterns on the shipwrecks fit models from classical island theory. Invertebrates on the shipwrecks included both sessile (sponges, anemones, hydroids) and motile (crustaceans, echinoderms) species. Invertebrate communities were significantly different among wrecks. The size and distance between wrecks influenced the biotic communities, much like on terrestrial islands. However, while wreck size influenced species richness (alpha diversity), distance to the nearest wreck influenced community composition (beta diversity). Alpha and beta diversity on the shipwrecks were thus influenced by different abiotic factors. We found no evidence of either nested patterns or non-random co-occurrence of morphotypes, suggesting that the taxa on a given shipwreck were randomly selected from the available taxon pool. Species present on the shipwrecks generally had one of two reproductive modes: most motile or solitary sessile species had long-duration planktotrophic larvae, while most encrusting or colonial sessile species had short-duration lecithotrophic larvae and underwent asexual reproduction by budding as adults. Short-duration larvae may recruit to their natal shipwreck, allowing them to build up dense populations and dominate the wreck surfaces. A high degree of dominance was indeed observed on the wrecks, with up to 80% of the fauna being accounted for by the most common species alone. By comparing the shipwreck communities to known patterns of succession in shallow water, we hypothesize that the shipwrecks are in a stage of mid-succession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-29
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume566
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2017

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invertebrates
duration
larvae
fauna
biocenosis
asexual reproduction
Echinodermata
Porifera
biogeography
Crustacea
coasts
species diversity
environmental factors
habitats
water

Cite this

Meyer, Kirstin S. ; Brooke, Sandra D. ; Sweetman, Andrew K. ; Wolf, Maya ; Young, Craig M. / Invertebrate communities on historical shipwrecks in the western Atlantic: relation to islands. In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. 2017 ; Vol. 566. pp. 17-29.
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Invertebrate communities on historical shipwrecks in the western Atlantic: relation to islands. / Meyer, Kirstin S.; Brooke, Sandra D.; Sweetman, Andrew K.; Wolf, Maya ; Young, Craig M.

In: Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 566, 27.02.2017, p. 17-29.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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