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IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Diplosoma listerianum (Milne-Edwards, 1841)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
D. listerianum is a cosmopolitan species. It is found on the coasts of the Netherlands, Madagascar, South Africa, Tanzania, Chile, Brazil, Panama, the USA (both east and west coasts), and England. Within these habitats, D.listerianum occupies both primary and secondary substrates. It is found to overgrow shellfish (e.g. mussels) and other sessile invertebrate species as well as macroalgae (e.g. Codium fragile subsp. tomentosoides, Ulva lactuta). It is unclear if other species are negatively affected by overgrowth of D.listerianum
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Tunicata
- Class: Ascidiacea
- Order: Enterogona
- Suborder: Aplousobranchia
- Family: Didemnidae
- Genus: Diplosoma
- Species: Diplosoma listerianum
DistributionTop of page
D. listerianum is native to the northeast Atlantic and has a cosmopolitan distribution. It is observed in both tropical and temperate waters. D. listerianum is currently found in the Caribbean (Rocha et al., 2005), the Pacific (Carman and Grunden, 2010), Australia (Kott, 2001), southern Brazil (Rocha et al., 2005; Rocha et al., 2009), the Gulf of Maine (Dijkstra et al., 2007a), south of Cape Cod (Osman and Whitlatch, 1995), the Mediterranean (Brunetti et al., 1988), South Africa (Millar, 1955) and Madagascar (Millar, 1988). In temperate offshore areas, D.listerianum can be abundant and appear healthy throughout the year (LG Harris, University of New Hampshire, USA, personal communication, 2009). In contrast, colonies of D. listerianum experience seasonal die-back at coastal sites. Fluctuations in population size along coastal sites are likely related to the seasonally colder waters that delay reproduction and growth of this species (Stachowicz et al., 2002). Like all colonial ascidians, it overgrows shellfish (e.g. mussels) and other sessile invertebrate species and subtidal macroalgae (J Dijkstra, University of New Hampshire, USA, personal communication, 2009).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Atlantic, Northeast||Widespread||Invasive||Monniot, 2001||The Netherlands, England and France|
|Atlantic, Northwest||Widespread||Native||Dijkstra et al., 2007a; Whitlatch et al., 1995||New York, NY to Casco Bay, ME|
|Indian Ocean, Eastern||Invasive||Marshall et al., 2003; Kott and Esnal, 2009||Many locations around Australia|
|Pacific, Northeast||Widespread||Invasive||Grey, 2009||British Columbia to Ensenada, Baja California|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Quebec||Present||Introduced||2008||Willis et al., 2011|
|USA||Present||Introduced||Osman and Whitlatch, 2007; Carman and Grunden, 2010||New England|
|-Maine||Present||Dijkstra et al., 2007a|
|-Massachusetts||Present||Introduced||Agius, 2007; Carman et al., 2007; Carman and Grunden, 2010||Lake Tashmoo|
|-New Hampshire||Present||Dijkstra et al., 2007b|
Habitat ListTop of page
|Inland saline areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Lagoons||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Mangroves||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Inshore marine||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Coral reefs||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Benthic zone||Present, no further details||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
D. listerianum is an aplousobranch ascidian of the family Didemnidae. Colony formation is similar to Botryllids. It forms patches or sheets of small zooids enclosed in a matrix of the tunic (fibrous tunicin). The tunic forms a thin-walled sac enclosing an extensive water-filled cloacal space in which the zooids are suspended (Berrill, 1950; Mackie and Singla, 1987). Unlike Botryllid ascidians, blood vessels of different zooids are not interconnected, but are independent of one another and connected by the common tunic only.
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||Optimum||25-34 tolerated. Optimal salinities are yet to be determined, most often found in waters between 30 and 33 psu|
|Turbidity (JTU turbidity)||Optimum||D. listerianum has been observed as deep as 15m|
|Water temperature (ºC temperature)||Optimum||0-28 tolerated. Prefers warmer waters. Optimal temperatures are yet to be determined|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Ecological knowledge gained from studies on this species and other similar species suggest that D. listerianum may become a permanent member of the community. It is unclear whether it will replace resident species. Monitoring is necessary to determine the range and size of the population, but management and/or eradication of the species may not be necessary in natural communities.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Is a habitat generalist
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Tolerant of shade
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Reproduces asexually
- Modification of natural benthic communities
- Monoculture formation
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Grey (2009) describes methods for surveying exotic ascidians such as D. listerianum, and recommends a visual inspection of floating docks. Willis et al. (2011) have designed a PCR assay to detect D. listerianum in water samples.
ReferencesTop of page
Agius BP, 2007. Spatial and temporal effects of pre-seeding plates with invasive ascidians: growth, recruitment and community composition. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology [Proceedings of the 1st International Invasive Sea Squirt Conference, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA, April 21-22, 2005.], 342(1):30-39. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981
Burighel P; Martinucci GB, 1994. Sexual reproduction in the compound ascidian Diplosoma listerianum (Tunicata). I. Metamorphosis, storage and phagocytosis of sperm in female duct. Marine Biology, 118:489-498.
Carman MR; Bullard SG; Donnelly JP, 2007. Water quality, nitrogen pollution, and ascidian diversity in coastal waters of southern Massachusetts, USA. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 342(1):175-178. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981
Carman MR; Grunden DW, 2010. First occurrence of the invasive tunicate Didemnum vexillum in eelgrass habitat. Aquatic Invasions [Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, Montreal, Canada, 19-23 April 2009.], 5(1):23-29. http://www.aquaticinvasions.ru/2010/AI_2010_5_1_Carman_Grunden.pdf
Coutts ADM; Forrest BM, 2007. Development and application of tools for incursion response: lessons learned from the management of the fouling pest Didemnum vexillum. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 342(1):154-162. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981
Dijkstra J; Harris LG; Westerman E, 2007. Distribution and long-term temporal patterns of four invasive colonial ascidians in the Gulf of Maine. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 342(1):61-68. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981
Dijkstra J; Sherman H; Harris LG, 2007. The role of colonial ascidians in altering biodiversity in marine fouling communities. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 342(1):169-171. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981
Gittenberger A, 2007. Recent population expansions of non-native ascidians in The Netherlands. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology [Proceedings of the 1st International Invasive Sea Squirt Conference, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA, April 21-22, 2005.], 342(1):122-126. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981
Grey EK, 2009. Do we need to jump in? A comparison of two survey methods of exotic ascidians on docks. Aquatic Invasions [Proceedings of the 2nd International Invasive Sea Squirt Conference, Prince Edward Island, Canada, 2-4 October 2007.], 4(1):81-86. http://www.aquaticinvasions.ru/2009/AI_2009_4_1_Grey.pdf
Marshall D; Pechenik J; Keough M, 2003. Larval activity levels and delayed metamorphosis affect post-larval performance in the colonial, ascidian Diplosoma listerianum. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 246:153-162.
Monniot C, 2001. European register of marine species: a check-list of the marine species in Europe and a bibliography of guides to their identification. Collection Patrimoines Naturels. In: Ascidiacea & Sorberacea, 50 [ed. by Costello MJea]. 352-355.
Osman RW; Whitlatch RB, 2007. Variation in the ability of Didemnum sp. to invade established communities. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 342(1):40-53. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981
Pederson J; Bullock R; Carlton JT; Dijkstra J; Dobroski N; Dyrynda P; Fisher R; Harris L; Hobbs N; Lambert G; Lazo-Wasem E; Mathieson AC; Miglietta MP; Smith J; Smith IIIJ; Tyrrell M, 2005. Marine invaders of the Northeast, Rapid Assessment Survey of Non-native and Native Marine Species of Floating Dock Communities. Massachussetts Institute of Technology.
Ruiz GM; Fofonoff PW; Carlton JT; Wonham MJ; Hines AH, 2000. Invasion of coastal marine communities in North America: apparent patterns, processes and biases. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 31:481-531.
Sabbadin A, 1955. [English title not available]. (Osservazioni sullo sviluppo, l'accrescimento e la riproduzione di Botryllus schlosseri (Pallas) in condizioni di laboratorio.) Bollettino di Zoologia, 22:243-263.
Stachowicz JJ; Terwin JR; Whitlatch RB; Osman RW, 2002. Linking climate change and biological invasions: Ocean warming facilitates nonindigenous species invasions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99:15497-15500.
Whitlatch RB; Osman RW; Frese A, 1995. The ecology of two introduced marine ascidians and their effects of epifaunal organisms in Long Island Sound. In: Proceedings of the Northeast Conference on Non-Indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Species: a regional conference. 29-48.
Willis JE; Stewart-Clark S; Greenwood SJ; Davidson J; Quijon P, 2011. A PCR-based assay to facilitate early detection of Diplosoma listerianum in Atlantic Canada. Aquatic Invasions, 6(1):7-16. http://www.aquaticinvasions.net/2011/AI_2011_6_1_Willis_etal.pdf
ContributorsTop of page
15/12/09 Original text by:
Jenn Dijkstra, University of New Hampshire, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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