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Short and long term consequences of increases in exotic species richness on water filtration by marine invertebrates




Although recent research has considered the consequences of global declines in the number of species, less attention has focused on the aggregate effects of regional increases in species richness as a result of human-mediated introductions. Here we examine several potential ecosystem consequences of increasing exotic species diversity of suspension feeding marine invertebrates. First, we experimentally manipulated native and non-native suspension feeder richness and measured its effect on short-term phytoplankton clearance rates. Multispecies communities all performed similarly, regardless of whether they were dominated by natives, exotics, or an even mix of the two. Individual species varied considerably in filtration rates, but non-native species often filtered less than the most similar native. Second, we determined potential changes in integrated function over time by comparing seasonal patterns of recruitment as a proxy for the ability to quickly recover filtration capacity after a disturbance. We found that exotic species have complementary seasonal phenologies both to native species and each other. Our results suggest that the consequences of local increases in species richness due to invasions may be manifest over long (annual to interannual) time scales, even when short term changes in ecosystem function are negligible.