Description

Ascidians and bivalves demonstrate complex relationships through competition for space and mutual predation by sea stars. Ascidians often out-compete bivalves and other organisms for space when nutrient levels are high, such as around urban centers. Bivalves can struggle to settle where there is increased boat traffic and competition, and therefore can be found in higher abundance in rural areas. This study investigated the difference in abundance of bivalves and ascidians and the difference in species distribution of ascidians between urban and rural dock pilings. In April 2018, ten sampling sites around the Bocas del Toro archipelago of Panama were used to conduct the study, five sites being urban and five rural. This study aimed to determine how distance from the urban center of Bocas town affected these invertebrates and to infer overall ecosystem health in these artificial habitats. Overall, there was no relationship between ascidian and bivalve density, but there were significantly denser populations of bivalves found on rural pilings compared to urban pilings. An even distribution of prominent ascidian species was found through both urban and rural areas. The difference in bivalve distribution could be caused by differences in anthropogenic disturbance, suggesting that urban boat traffic and increased competition may have a large impact on the bivalve community. The even ascidian species distribution suggests a well-established artificial habitat that closely resembles local coral reefs and mangroves. Some urban and rural dock piling communities may then be positively contributing to the marine biodiversity and health in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

COinS
 

Epifaunal Assemblages Associated with Dock Pilings in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago

Ascidians and bivalves demonstrate complex relationships through competition for space and mutual predation by sea stars. Ascidians often out-compete bivalves and other organisms for space when nutrient levels are high, such as around urban centers. Bivalves can struggle to settle where there is increased boat traffic and competition, and therefore can be found in higher abundance in rural areas. This study investigated the difference in abundance of bivalves and ascidians and the difference in species distribution of ascidians between urban and rural dock pilings. In April 2018, ten sampling sites around the Bocas del Toro archipelago of Panama were used to conduct the study, five sites being urban and five rural. This study aimed to determine how distance from the urban center of Bocas town affected these invertebrates and to infer overall ecosystem health in these artificial habitats. Overall, there was no relationship between ascidian and bivalve density, but there were significantly denser populations of bivalves found on rural pilings compared to urban pilings. An even distribution of prominent ascidian species was found through both urban and rural areas. The difference in bivalve distribution could be caused by differences in anthropogenic disturbance, suggesting that urban boat traffic and increased competition may have a large impact on the bivalve community. The even ascidian species distribution suggests a well-established artificial habitat that closely resembles local coral reefs and mangroves. Some urban and rural dock piling communities may then be positively contributing to the marine biodiversity and health in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

 

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