Martins, G.M.M., Prestes, A.C.L., Faria, J. & Neto, A.I. (2021) Predicting the ecological impact of a recent range expansion in the structure of intertidal biofilms.Marine Environmental Research, 169, 1-6. DOI:10.1016/j.marenvres.2021.105332 (IF2021 3,737; Q1 Marine & Freshwater Biology)
Predicting the consequences of recent changes in species distributional ranges is paramount. The trochid Phorcus sauciatus has recently colonised the Azores and is the only intertidal trochid in these islands. In this study we used experimental mesocosms to examine whether its addition to the remainder of the intertidal assemblage of grazers composed of littorinids and patellids affects the structure of epilithic biofilms growing on experimental plates. We also examined if its presence can compensate the loss of patellid limpets to simulate areas where these are chronically harvested. Results showed that when the native assemblage of grazers (littorinids and patellids) are present, the addition of P. sauciatus had little influence on the overall structure of epilithic biofilms. However, when patellids were absent, and in contrast to expectations, biofilm standing stock on experimental plates decreased significantly. Results suggest that patellids may negatively affect the foraging activities of P. sauciatus via interference competition and are further discussed in face of ecological knowledge of these organisms.