, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 501-508

The unique, widely distributed, estuarine sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis Stephenson: A review, new facts, and questions

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Abstract

The small, burrowing, edwardsiid sea anemone Nematostella vectensis is widely distributed in estuaries and bays. Most typically it occurs in pools in marshes though it may occur subtidally as well. We have compiled records of its occurrence in North America from Nova Scotia to Georgia along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, from Florida to Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico and from California to Washington on the Pacific coast. To date we have found no records of its presence in Alabama or Texas, though it is present in all other of the contiguous coastal states of the United States. The species also occurs in England. We have obtained living specimens from many locations and have crossed females from England, Maryland, Georgia, California, Oregon, and Washington with males from Nova Scotia, Maryland, Georgia, and Oregon. These 24 crosses all yielded viable first-generation anemones that in turn produced second-generation animals. We accept this as proof that this widely distributed anemone is a single species. We have obtained living N. vectensis from 11 areas. Of these, only samples from Maine, Maryland, Georgia, and Oregon contained both sexes. The sample from Nova Scotia was all male and our samples from England, New Hampshire, California, and Washington were all female. We hypothesize that the unisexual samples were from clones resulting from asexual reproduction in this species. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A01BY066 00015