Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)

Evaluation of the sea anemone Anthothoe albocincta as an augmentative biocontrol agent for biofouling on artificial structures

1 January, 2013
CITATION

Atalah J, Bennett H, Hopkins G, Forrest B 2013. Evaluation of the sea anemone Anthothoe albocincta as an augmentative biocontrol agent for biofouling on artificial structures. Biofouling 29 (5): 559-571.

ABSTRACT

Augmentative biocontrol, defined as the use of indigenous natural enemies to control pest populations, has not been explored extensively in marine systems. This study tested the potential of the anemone Anthothoe albocincta as a biocontrol agent for biofouling on submerged artificial structures. Biofouling biomass was negatively related to anemone cover. Treatments with high anemone cover (>35%) led to significant changes in biofouling assemblages compared to controls.

Taxa that contributed to these changes differed among sites, but included reductions in cover of problematic fouling organisms, such as solitary ascidians and bryozoans. In laboratory trials, A. albocincta substantially prevented the settlement of larvae of the bryozoan Bugula neritina when exposed to three levels of larval dose, suggesting predation as an important biocontrol mechanism, in addition to space pre-emption. This study demonstrated that augmentative biocontrol using anemones has the potential to reduce biofouling on marine artificial structures, although considerable further work is required to refine this tool before its application.