TitleCommunity modification by a grass invader has differing impacts for marine habitats
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsHacker, SD, Dethier, MN
Type of ArticleJournal Article

There is increasing recognition of invasive species impacts but less is known about how modifications may differ under variable environmental contexts. In particular, it is generally unknown whether impacts of single invasive species can vary among habitats and what the consequences of this variability may be. We used a multi-site comparative approach to examine the impacts of a single invader, the marine grass Spartina anglica, on estuarine habitats with different native species assemblages and physical conditions. We found that range (extent), abundance, and effects on sediment and native plant species vary depending on the habitat invaded. S. anglica has by far the greatest range and abundance in mudflats and low salinity marshes compared to high salinity marshes and cobble beaches. Changes in sediment characteristics also substantially differed among habitats, with invaded areas in some habitats experiencing greater sediment accretion, water content, and salinity than other habitats. In addition, in opposition to the theory that strong invaders decrease species diversity, we found that native plant diversity in our plots increased within invaded areas in some habitats while it declined in others. These variable modifications suggest that single invaders, even species that are considered strong interactors, do not produce the same effect in all habitats. We suggest that understanding impact variability can help predict how invasive species will respond to environmental changes, new habitats, and management strategies.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000237655400009