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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Different environmental variables predict distribution and cover of the introduced red seaweed Eucheuma denticulatum in two geographical locations

Eggertsen, M.; Tano, S. A.; Chacin, D. H.; Eklof, J. S.; Larsson, J.; Berkstrom, C.; Buriyo, A. S.; Halling, C.


In this study we examined abiotic and biotic factors that could potentially influence the presence of a non-indigenous seaweed, Eucheuma denticulatum, in two locations, one outside (Kane'ohe Bay, Hawai'i, USA) and one within (Mafia Island, Tanzania) its natural geographical range. We hypothesized that the availability of hard substrate and the amount of wave exposure would explain distribution patterns, and that higher abundance of herbivorous fishes in Tanzania would exert stronger top-down control than in Hawai'i. To address these hypotheses, we surveyed E. denticulatum in sites subjected to different environmental conditions and used generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) to identify predictors of E. denticulatum presence. We also estimated grazing intensity on E. denticulatum by surveying the type and the amount of grazing scars. Finally, we used molecular tools to distinguish between indigenous and non-indigenous strains of E. denticulatum on Mafia Island. In Kane'ohe Bay, the likelihood of finding E. denticulatum increased with wave exposure, whereas on Mafia Island, the likelihood increased with cover of coral rubble, and decreased with distance from areas of introduction (AOI), but this decrease was less pronounced in the presence of coral rubble. Grazing intensity was higher in Kane'ohe Bay than on Mafia Island. However, we still suggest that efforts to reduce non-indigenous E. denticulatum should include protection of important herbivores in both sites because of the high levels of grazing close to AOI. Moreover, we recommend that areas with hard substrate and high structural complexity should be avoided when farming non-indigenous strains of E. denticulatum.


Introduced seaweeds; Herbivory; Invasive species; Phase shift; Macroalgae; Environmental factors

Published in

Biological Invasions
2021, Volume: 23, number: 4, pages: 1049-1067

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