Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Multiple introductions and secondary dispersion of Tubastraea spp. in the Southwestern Atlantic.

Abstract

Accidental introduction through ballast water and biofouling are currently the main factors responsible for spreading non-indigenous species in the marine realm. In the Southwestern Atlantic, two scleractinian corals, Tubastraea coccinea and T. tagusensis, have been introduced by opportunistic colonization in 1980 and are now widespread along more than 3,500 km of coastline. To better understand the invasion process and the role of vectors in spreading these species, we sampled 306 and 173 colonies of T. coccinea and T. tagusensis from invaded sites, possible vectors and one native population. Analyses revealed a higher diversity of multi-locus genotypes (MLGs) on vectors, suggesting that they were contaminated prior to their arrival in the Southwestern Atlantic, and a high proportion of clones at invaded sites, with few genotypes spread over ∼2,000 km. This broad distribution is most likely a result of secondary introductions through the transport of contaminated vectors. Results also suggest the occurrence of multiple invasions, mainly in the northernmost sites. In summary, clonality, secondary introductions, and multiple invasions are the main reasons for the broad spread and invasive success of Tubastraea spp. in the Southwestern Atlantic. Consequently, the correct control of vectors is the most effective approach for management and prevention of new invasions.