Marine Invasive Species - Assessing Fouling Community Variations in Boston Harbor
Delivered at the 2011 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium
Marine invasive species currently dominate the fouling community throughout Boston Harbor and in other commercial ports around the world. The success of management efforts to control and prevent invasive species requires an understanding of the environmental factors that influence biological invasions. Many invasive species, such as the colonial tunicate Didemnum Vexillum and the solitary tunicates Ciona intestinalis and Ascidiella aspersa, are capable of tolerating wide ranges in salinity, temperature and water quality, but field studies of the factors that determine the structure of fouling communities are limited. In this preliminary study, water quality data gathered at four study locations and data collected by the Massachusetts Water Resource authority (MWRA) in Boston Harbor have been analyzed to identify patterns in salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature and nutrients. Variations in fouling community structure on settlement plates have been analyzed to detect correlations with varying ranges of water quality. Initial findings demonstrate that while invasive species dominate the fouling community throughout Boston Harbor, community structures at three locations show great variation. The goal of this study is to identify how variations in water quality influence the structure of the fouling community and dominance by invasive species.