DOI: 10.1101/512699Jan 6, 2019Paper

Colonial ascidians strongly preyed upon, yet dominate the substrate in a subtropical fouling community

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Laurel S HiebertFederico D Brown

Abstract

Higher diversity and dominance at lower latitudes has been suggested for colonial species. We verified the latitudinal pattern in species richness of ascidians, finding that higher colonial-to-solitary species ratios occur in the tropics and subtropics. At the latitudinal region with the highest ratio, in south-eastern Brazil, we confirmed that colonial species dominate the space on artificial plates in two independent studies of five fouling communities. We manipulated settlement plates to measure effects of predation and competition on growth and survivorship of colonial vs. solitary ascidians. Eight ascidian species were subjected to a predation treatment, i.e. caged vs. exposed to predators, and a competition treatment, i.e. leaving vs. removing competitors, to assess main and interactive effects. Predation had a greater effect on growth and survivorship of colonial compared to solitary species, whereas competition did not show consistent patterns between the two life histories. We hypothesize that colonial ascidians dominate at this subtropical site despite being highly preyed upon because they regrow when partially consumed and can adjust in shape and space to grow into refuges. We contend that these means of avoiding mor...Continue Reading

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