Advertisement

Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 1325–1330 | Cite as

The occurrence of a widespread marine invader, Didemnum perlucidum (Tunicata, Ascidiacea) in Western Australia

  • Dan A. Smale
  • Samantha Childs
Invasion Note

Abstract

Colonial ascidians of the genus Didemnum are emerging as potent invaders of coastal marine ecosystems. Here, we used taxonomic and phylogenetic approaches to confirm the presence of Didemnum perlucidum in Australia. D. perlucidum is widespread in tropical ports and is thought to be a recent introduction into Brazilian waters, where it has increased biofouling pressure and affected aquaculture practices. D. perlucidum was observed dominating fouling assemblages on settlement panels and jetty pylons at two study sites in the Perth metropolitan area, Western Australia. As identifying members of this genus based on morphological characteristics is difficult, analysis of mtDNA was conducted to verify the occurrence of D. perlucidum in Australia. Space occupation of artificial substrata was observed in summer and autumn, when D. perlucidum colonies overgrew other sessile organisms, including the commercially harvested Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis ssp. planulatus). This represents the first confirmed record of this species in Australia, which should be considered cryptogenic until detailed biogeographical analyses are conducted. The distribution, biology, and economic and ecological implications of D. perlucidum in Australia are entirely unknown, and warrant urgent investigation.

Keywords

Ascidian Biofouling Benthic marine communities Didemnids Settlement panels Southwest Australia 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We sincerely thank Gretchen Lambert (University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories) for taxonomic expertise, Tim Glasby and Brendon O’ Rourke (Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, New South Wales government) for assistance with phylogenetic analysis, and Anne Brearley (University of Western Australia) for insightful discussions and historical perspectives. Christopher Stoddart (University of Western Australia) is also acknowledged for assistance with microscopy and Rosana Rocha (Universidade Federal do Paraná) collected the D. perlucidum specimen from Brazil. DS is funded by the Western Australian Marine Science Institute (WAMSI).

References

  1. Brearley A (2005) Ernest Hodgkin’s Swanland: estuaries and coastal lagoons of south-western Australia. University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, p 550Google Scholar
  2. Bullard SG (2007) The colonial ascidian Didemnum sp.A: current distribution, basic biology and potential threat to marine communities of the northeast and west coasts of North America. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 342:99–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chapman JW, Carlton JT (1991) A test of criteria for introduced species: the global invasion by the isopod Synidotea laevidorsalis. J Crustac Biol 11:386–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dijkstra J, Harris LG, Westerman E (2007) Distribution and long-term temporal patterns of four invasive colonial ascidians in the Gulf of Maine. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 342:61–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Grosholz E (2002) Ecological and evolutionary consequences of coastal invasions. Trends Ecol Evol 17:22–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kott P (2001) The Australian ascidiacea part 4, Aplousobranchia (3), Didemnidae. Mem Queensl Mus 47:1–407Google Scholar
  7. Kremer LP, Rocha RM (2011) The role of Didemnum perlucidum F. Monniot, 1983 (Tunicata, Ascidiacea) in a marine fouling community. Aquat Invas 6:441–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kremer LP, Rocha RM, Roper JJ (2010) An experimental test of the colonization ability in the potentially invasive Didemnum perlucidum (Tunicata, Ascidiacea). Biol Invas 12:1581–1590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lambert G (2002) Nonindigenous ascidians in tropical waters. Pac Sci 56:291–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lambert G (2007) Invasive sea squirts: a growing global problem. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 342:3–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lambert G (2009) Adventures of a sea squirt sleuth: unraveling the identity of Didemnum vexillum, a global ascidian invader. Aquat Invas 4:5–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Osman RW, Whitlatch RB (2007) Variation in the ability of Didemnum sp. to invade established communities. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 342:40–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pearce A, Feng M (2007) Observations of warming on the Western Australian continental shelf. Mar Freshw Res 58:914–920CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rocha RM, Kremer LP, Baptista MS, Metri R (2009) Bivalve culture provides habitat for exotic tunicates in southern Brazil. Aquat Invas 4:195–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rodriguez LF (2006) Can invasive species facilitate native species? Evidence of how, when, and why these impacts occur. Biol Invas 8:927–939CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Shenkar N, Swalla BJ (2011) Global diversity of Ascidiacea. PLoS One 6:e20657PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Smale DA, Wernberg T, Peck LS, Barnes DKA (2011) Turning on the heat: ecological response to simulated warming in the sea. PLoS ONE 6:e16050PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sorte CJB, Stachowicz JJ (2011) Patterns and process of compositional change in a California epibenthic community. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 435:63–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Stachowicz JJ, Terwin JR, Whitlatch RB, Osman RW (2002) Linking climate change and biological invasions: ocean warming facilitates nonindigenous species invasions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:15497–15500PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Stefaniak L, Lambert G, Gittenberger A, Zhang H, Lin S, Whitlatch RB (2009) Genetic conspecificity of the worldwide populations of Didemnum vexillum Kott, 2002. Aquat Invas 4:29–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thomsen MS, Olden JD, Wernberg T, GJ N, Silliman BR (2011) A broad framework to organize and compare ecological invasion impacts. Environ Res 111:899–908PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Valentine PC, Carman MR, Blackwood DS, Heffron EJ (2007) Ecological observations on the colonial ascidian Didemnum sp. in a New England tide pool habitat. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 342:109–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Western Australia Planning Commission (2004) Fremantle ports outer harbour project: information brochure. Western Australian Planning Commission, Perth, p 9Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Plant Biology, Oceans InstituteUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations