Evidence for effects of Spartina anglica invasion on benthic macrofauna in Little Swanport estuary, Tasmania

Authors

  • Paul Hedge,

    1. 1 Marine Resources Division, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, GPO Box 192B, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia (Email: paul.hedge@dpiwe.tas.gov.au) and 2Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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    • *Corresponding author.

  • and 1 Lorne K. Kriwoken 2

    1. 1 Marine Resources Division, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, GPO Box 192B, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia (Email: paul.hedge@dpiwe.tas.gov.au) and 2Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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Abstract

Spartina anglica is an exotic perennial grass that can rapidly colonise the intertidal zone of temperate estuaries and lagoons. Consequently, there is considerable concern about its impact on estuarine flora and fauna. This study provides the first investigation of ecological impacts by S. anglica in Australia. The objective was to investigate the impacts of S. anglica on benthic macroinvertebrate communities inhabiting mudflat and native saltmarsh habitats at Little Swanport estuary, Tasmania. The null hypothesis that species richness and species abundance of benthic macroinvertebrates in exotic S. anglica marsh does not differ from adjacent native saltmarsh and mudflat habitats was tested. Eighteen species and 3716 macroinvertebrates were collected from 60 intertidal core samples in three habitats. Species richness, total abundance of invertebrates, crustacean abundance and mollusc abundance of mudflat communities were significantly (P < 0.05) lower when compared to those inhabiting adjacent S. anglica marsh and native saltmarsh. However, species richness and total abundance of invertebrates of native saltmarsh and S. anglica marsh did not differ significantly. Ordination of macroinvertebrate data clearly separated mudflat sites from vegetated sites but showed remarkable similarity between exotic and native vegetated sites.

Ancillary