Food selection of a generalist herbivore exposed to native and alien seaweeds

Paola Gianguzza, Salvatrice Vizzini, Tomas Vega Fernandez, Chiara Bonaviri, Simona Noè, Tomás Vega Fernández, Luigi Musco, Fabio Badalamenti, Fabio Badalamenti, Luigi Musco

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding which factors influence the invasion of alien seaweed has become a central concern in ecology. Increasing evidence suggests that the feeding preferences of native herbivores influence the success of alien seaweeds in the new community. We investigated food selection of a generalist native grazer Paracentrotus lividus, in the presence of two alien seaweeds (Caulerpa cylindracea and Caulerpa taxifolia var. distichophylla) and two native seaweeds (Dictyopteris membranacea and Cystoseira compressa). Sea urchins were fed with six experimental food items: C. cylindracea, C. taxifolia var. distichophylla, a mixture of C. cylindracea and C. taxifolia var. distichophylla, D. membranacea, C. compressa and a mixture of D. membranacea and C. compressa. P. lividus ingested all the combinations of food offered, though it preferentially consumed the alien mixture, C. cylindracea and D. membranacea. The alien C. taxifolia var. distichophylla was consumed significantly less than the other food items and, interestingly, it was ingested in a greater amount when mixed with C. cylindracea than when on its own. This finding suggests that C. taxifolia var. distichophylla may become vulnerable to sea urchin grazing when it grows intermingled with C. cylindracea, which does not gain immediate protection from the presence of the very low palatable congeneric seaweed. The present study highlights the potential role of native grazers to indirectly affect the interspecific competition between the two alien seaweeds in the Mediterranean Sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-473
Number of pages5
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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