Native and introduced gastropods in laurel forests on Tenerife, Canary Islands
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Acta oecologica. - Montreuil
, p. 581-589
University of Antwerp
The introduction of non-native gastropods on islands has repetitively been related to a decline of the endemic fauna. So far, no quantitative information is available even for the native gastropod fauna from the laurel forests (the so-called Laurisilva) of the Canary Islands. Much of the original laurel forest has been logged in recent centuries. Based on vegetation studies, we hypothesized that densities and the number of introduced species decline with the age of the regrowth forests. We sampled 27 sites from which we collected thirty native and seven introduced species. Two introduced species, Milax nigricans and Oxychilus alliarius, were previously not reported from the Canary Islands. Assemblage composition was mainly structured by disturbance history and attitude. Overall species richness was correlated with slope inclination, prevalence of rocky outcrops, amounts of woody debris and leaf litter depth. Densities were correlated with the depth of the litter layer and the extent of herb layer cover and laurel canopy cover. Introduced species occurred in 22 sites but were neither related to native species richness nor to the time that elapsed since forest regrowth. One introduced slug, Lehmannia valentiana, is already widespread, with densities strongly related to herb cover. Overall species richness seemed to be the outcome of invasibility, thus factors enhancing species richness likely also enhance invasibility. Although at present introduced species contribute to diversity, the potential competition between introduced slugs and the rich native semi-slug fauna, and the effects of introduced predatory snails (Oxychilus spp. and Testacella maugei) warrant further monitoring. (C) 2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.