Introduced species increase complexity and biodiversity of rocky subtidal seascapes


A major issue confronting marine and terrestrial researchers is addressing questions related to alterations in the organization and structure of communities as a result of introduced species. Many of these alterations are reflected in replacements, additions or losses of habitat-forming species that perform essential ecosystem services. In the Gulf of Maine, subtidal rocky macroalgal communities have substantially changed since the 1970s, with 50-80% of shallow subtidal communities covered by non-native species. While detecting changes in species composition as a result of introduced species is obvious, shifts in the morphological structure (ie, architecture) of the community or in diversity of species at the base of the food web is more difficult to assess. We investigated the effects of long-term shifts (> 45 yrs.) in macroalgal composition on habitat structure, abundance and diversity of species that occur at the base of the food web. Our results indicate that non-native algal species have increased the complexity of rocky subtidal communities with concurrent increases in the abundance and diversity of invertebrates and vertebrates. This study serves to identify the degree to which non-native species alter the structure and function of subtidal macroalgal habitats.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Benthic Ecology Meetings

Conference Date

March 4-8, 2015

Publisher Place

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada


Benthic Ecology Meeting Society

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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