The burrowing tendencies of Sphaeroma quoianum have lead to an increase in erosion rates by as much as 240% of many estuarine environments as well as damage to docks, wooden structures, levees and dikes (Carlton, 2001; Talley et al., 2001, Davidson, 2008). Burrowing by S. quoianum into polystyrene floats, such as Styrofoam, also disperses microscopic polystyrene particles into local waterways (Carlton, unpublished). An increased loss of marsh plants also occurs due to the invasion of S. quoianum (Talley et al., 2001).
Through their burrowing activities, S. quoianum creates extensive networks of burrows which are utilised by a variety of estuarine and semi-terrestrial species. Davidson et al. (2009) found that S. quoianum were associated with higher densities, richness and diversity of fauna in some substrates. Additionally, some species were able to survive at higher tidal levels than normal by using burrows as refuges.
Burrow microhabitats appeared to support greater proportions of non-native fauna than native fauna in Coos Bay, Oregon (Davidson et al., 2009). Thus burrows created by S. quoianum could be an important factor in the establishment and spread of other non-native species (Davidson et al., 2009).
Location Specific Impacts:
Coos Bay (United States (USA))
Physical disturbance: Sphaeroma quoyanum burrows into Styrofoam™ like material and releases millions of microscopic polystyrene particles into local waterways (Carlton, 2001).
California (United States (USA))
Physical disturbance: The boring tendencies of Sphaeroma quoianum have caused significant damage to levees and dikes in and around the San Francisco Bay area (Carlton, 1977). S. quoianum burrows into mud banks and increases erosion rates of local salt marshes up to 1 meter per year (Carlton, 2001).
Reduction in native biodiversity: Invasions and more specifically burrowing of Sphaeroma quoianum lead to an increased loss of marsh plants (Crooks, 2002).