Non-contact competition in a sessile marine invertebrate: Causes and consequences

Thompson, Matthew L, Marshall , Dustin J and Monro, Keyne (2015) Non-contact competition in a sessile marine invertebrate: Causes and consequences. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 522 115-125. doi:10.3354/meps11178

Author Thompson, Matthew L
Marshall , Dustin J
Monro, Keyne
Title Non-contact competition in a sessile marine invertebrate: Causes and consequences
Journal name Marine Ecology Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2015-03-02
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps11178
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 522
Start page 115
End page 125
Total pages 11
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Abstract In marine benthic communities, phenotypic responses to contact competition are well resolved, but the causes and consequences of non-contact competition remain unclear. Here, we used the arborescent bryozoan Bugula neritina to firstly identify whether colonies change their phenotype as a result of non-contact competition, and then understand the mechanism behind the changes. Secondly, we determined the phenotypes that change in response to non-contact competition, with focus on changes in the feeding structure, viz. the lophophore. Lastly, we used a reciprocal transplant design to test whether phenotypic responses to non-contact competition reduce its negative effects. We found that phenotypic responses to non-contact competition were mediated by the biological effects of conspecific neighbours, but were also determined by the physical effects associated with increased density. Further, we found that colonies grown in high conspecific density environments were smaller (though more elongated for their size) and had smaller lophophores than colonies from low conspecific density treatments. However, we found no evidence that such phenotypic responses constituted adaptive plasticity; instead, individuals that experienced non-contact competition always performed worse than individuals that had not, and the effects of exposure to non-contact competition were additive. Our study suggests that non-contact competition is an important and persistent process in benthic marine communities, but that phenotypic plasticity, though present, does not buffer individuals from the negative effects of this process.
Keyword Bugula neritina
Conspecific competition
Lophophore size
Phenotype-environment mismatch
Phenotypic plasticity
Reciprocal transplant
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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