The invasion of the azooxanthellate coral Tubastraea (Scleractinia: Dendrophylliidae) throughout the world: history, pathways and vectors.
In this review, we describe the history, pathways and vectors of the biological invasion of the azooxanthellate coral Tubastraea (Scleractinia: Dendrophylliidae) throughout the world. In order to do so we consulted previous reports in the literature and also compiled new unpublished information on the distribution of the three species of Tubastraea which have been reported as non indigenous species, both within their native and non-native ranges and also on vectors, and where cryptogenic. We combine these data with historical aspects of marine vectors in order to get insights into how Tubastraea species have successfully spread around the world, established and invaded and where future studies would be best focused. T. coccinea and T. tagusensis are recognized as being highly invasive and are causing significant environmental, economic, and social impacts requiring management actions. The third species, T. micranthus so far only reported outside its native range on oil platforms, may have similar potential for negative impact. The vectors of introduction of Tubastraea may have changed throughout history and the biological invasion of these invasive corals may reflect changing practices, demands and legislation in shipping activities over the years. Today it is clear that these corals are fouling organisms strongly associated with oil and gas platforms worldwide which are thus primary vectors for new introductions.