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Research article2019Peer reviewed

Modelling and predicting habitats for the neobiotic American razor clam Ensis leei in the Wadden Sea

Schwemmer, Philipp; Adler, Sven; Enners, Leonie; Volmer, Henning; Kottsieper, Johanna; Ricklefs, Klaus; Stage, Maria; Schwarzer, Klaus; Wittbrodt, Kerstin; Reimers, Hans -Christian; Binder, Kirsten; Asmus, Ragnhild; Asmus, Harald; Horn, Sabine; Schueckel, Ulrike; Kohlus, Joni; Eskildsen, Kai; Klingbeil, Knut; Graewe, Ulf; Garthe, Stefan


Neobiotic species can have profound impacts on food webs and entire ecosystems. The American razor clam Ensis leei was introduced into the Wadden Sea by vessels in the late 1970s and has since spread widely. It has been suggested that Ensis does not interact strongly with other benthic species. The abundance and biomass of E. leei were recorded in 2393 samples in the north-eastern Wadden Sea and 800 samples in the south-eastern Wadden Sea over a total period of 9 years. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we developed a habitat prediction model using sedimentological and hydrodynamic predictors to help understand the shape of the ecological niche occupied by Ensis in the Wadden Sea. Our model showed that Ensis preferred areas with moderately high bed shear stress and prolonged or constant water coverage. Ensis preferred coarse sediments in the northern sub-area but coarse and muddy sediments in the southern sub-area and was negatively affected by the sand mason worm Lanice conchilega in the northern sub-area. Predictions of the spatial distribution of Ensis using the northern and southern datasets revealed major differences in predicted hot-spots throughout the entire study site. This study thus highlights the need to collect a sufficiently large dataset from different sub-areas of the Wadden Sea to allow valid conclusions to be drawn regarding the spatial distribution of Ensis. The negative effects of L. conchilega on Ensis abundance and biomass as well as the occurrence of Ensis in muddy sediments in the south suggest that the ecological niche of this neobiotic species is likely to overlap partly with the native fauna of the Wadden Sea.


Habitat model; Invasive species; Ecological niche; Hydrodynamics; Sediment; Lanice conchilega

Published in

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
2019, Volume: 231, article number: 106440

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