Assessing invasion risk across taxa and habitats: Life stage as a determinant of invasion success

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Diversity and Distributions





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Aim Many aquatic invertebrates produce dormant life-history stages as a means to endure inhospitable environments and to facilitate natural long-distance dispersal, yet we have little understanding of the role of dormant stages as a mechanism for human-mediated introductions of non-indigenous species. We explore the survival of invertebrate dormant eggs in collected ships' ballast sediment over a 1-year period to determine relative invasion potential across taxa (i.e. rotifers, copepods, cladocerans and bryozoans) and different habitats (freshwater, marine). Location Canadian Atlantic and Pacific coasts and Laurentian Great Lakes. Methods During 2007 and 2008, 19 ballast samples were collected as a part of a larger study. The degradation rate of dormant eggs was assessed by enumerating dormant eggs and by conducting viability hatching experiments. Results Taxa examined included rotifers, copepods, anomopods, onychopods and bryozoans. Dormant eggs of rotifers degraded at the highest rate of all taxa examined, with no viable eggs remaining within 10months. Copepods showed a less rapid degradation rate than rotifers. The degradation rate of anomopod dormant eggs was significantly slower than that of both rotifers and copepods. Onychopods and bryozoans did not visibly degrade at all over 12months. Viability hatching experiments were successful for rotifers, copepods, and anomopods. Onychopods and bryozoans did not hatch during any of the three hatching trials. Main conclusions Dormancy is not equally beneficial to all invertebrate taxa. Our results indicate that dormant eggs of rotifers and copepods degrade at a rapid rate and may not pose high invasion risk. In contrast, the slow degradation rate of anomopod dormant eggs and the lack of degradation of onychopod and bryozoan dormant eggs could result in high invasion risk because of their accumulation in ballast tanks. Species having resistant dormant eggs mostly belong to freshwater taxa making freshwater habitats at higher invasion risk by dormant invertebrates than marine habitats. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.