Diversity and abundance of native and non-native ascidians in Puerto Rican harbors and marinas.
Ascidians are an ideal taxon to study invasion processes: they require anthropogenic introduction vectors for long-distance dispersal, are easy to collect and monitor, and are abundant on artificial substrates. In March 2019 we surveyed 11 harbors around Puerto Rico and recorded 47 ascidian species. Eleven of these were only identified to the genus level or above based on morphological or genetic characterization. The remaining 36 species were classified as: 11 introduced (7 with worldwide distributions), 13 cryptogenic, and 12 native. We report the occurrence of Phallusia cf. philippinensis in the Atlantic for the first time. Ascidian community structure did not differ significantly across geographic locations and distances between marinas, while marina size had a significant effect on species richness and composition. Stakeholder involvement and periodic monitoring efforts are essential to detect the arrival of new species and the spread of already introduced ones to natural habitats.