, Volume 10, Issue 8, pp 1311-1316
Date: 04 Jan 2008

Process of invasiveness among exotic tunicates in Prince Edward Island, Canada

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Abstract

Over the past decade, four exotic tunicates (Styela clava, Ciona intestinalis, Botrylloides violaceus and Botryllus schlosseri) have been reported in the Brudenell estuary in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. Styela clava was the first exotic tunicate to arrive in 1997, rapidly establishing, spreading, invading, and eventually becoming a nuisance in several estuaries of PEI. In the Brudenell estuary, S. clava remained the only exotic nuisance tunicate until 2003. In the fall of 2004, the vase tunicate C. intestinalis, was reported in low abundance, followed by the two colonial species, B. schlosseri and B. violaceus, reported in the spring of 2005. The abundance of C. intestinalis rapidly increased post-introduction, eventually replacing S. clava as the foremost nuisance species on mussel farms in the estuary. To date, C. intestinalis continues to colonize this estuary at epidemic proportions, resulting in the continuing drop of S. clava abundance. The current abundance of C. intestinalis is estimated at 5 cm−2, which is similar to S. clava abundance at its height in 2003. The 2006 abundance of S. clava is estimated to have fallen to near 0 cm−2. The dominance of C. intestinalis as a fouling organism on mussel farms is considered a serious threat to this aquaculture industry, mainly due to its unmanageable weight. The process of the detection, establishment, invasiveness, and eventual rise to nuisance level of exotic tunicates in the Brudenell River is presented.