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


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.


Ascidian Biofouling Benthic marine communities Didemnids Settlement panels Southwest Australia 



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).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

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

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