Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 9, pp 2583–2597 | Cite as

Taking a detour: invasion of an octocoral into the Tropical Eastern Pacific

  • Elena Quintanilla
  • Thomas Wilke
  • Catalina Ramírez-Portilla
  • Adriana Sarmiento
  • Juan A. Sánchez
Original Paper

Abstract

The tropical snowflake octocoral Carijoa riisei, which is thought to be native to the Indo-Pacific biogeographical region, has been increasingly reported from the Colombian Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) over the past two decades. Massive mortalities of native octocorals, particularly in Pacifigorgia spp. and Muricea spp., were observed due to C. riisei overgrowth. However, the area of origin of TEP C. riisei remains unknown and its potential invasive status has not been addressed yet. We evaluated geographical scenarios for the colonization of the Colombian TEP by conducting phylogeographical analyses based on nuclear and mitochondrial sequences of 306 individual specimens from across the species’ (native/non-native) range and applying hypothesis-specific operational criteria. Additionally, we assessed whether C. riisei has to be considered an invasive species based on the previously proposed ‘unified framework for biological invasions’. Our results showed relatively high genetic differentiation between Colombian TEP populations, on the one side, and Indo-Pacific and Hawaiian populations, on the other side. In contrast, we could not identify genetic differentiation and significant isolation by distance (IBD) between Colombian TEP and Tropical Atlantic populations. C. riisei might have been introduced from the Atlantic into the Colombian TEP, possibly via the Panama Canal. Based on the criteria of the ‘unified framework for biological invasions’, we also conclude that this octocoral constitutes an invasive species. Our study may serve as a basis for establishing strategies to protect native species from one of the very few invasive coral species worldwide.

Keywords

Carijoa riisei Invasive status Phylogeography Tropical Eastern Pacific Area of origin Operational criteria 

Supplementary material

10530_2017_1469_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (136 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 136 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 202 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 205 kb)
10530_2017_1469_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (147 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 146 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio de Biología Molecular Marina (BIOMMAR), Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas-Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de los AndesBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology and SystematicsJustus Liebig University GiessenGiessenGermany

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