Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ominous Signs Of Cryptic Marine Invasions: Common Brittlestars Jumped The Isthmus Of Panama Approximately Two Centuries Ago

Date:
May 13, 2002
Source:
Smithsonian Institution
Summary:
Cryptic stowaways in fouling communities or ballast water of seagoing ships may look exactly like local marine animals. But a comparison of brittlestars reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society suggests that human-aided dispersal gradually blurs important genetic distinctions between once-isolated groups.

Cryptic stowaways in fouling communities or ballast water of seagoing ships may look exactly like local marine animals. But a comparison of brittlestars reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society suggests that human-aided dispersal gradually blurs important genetic distinctions between once-isolated groups.

Globalization of invasive organisms represents a huge, uncontrolled experiment with potentially disastrous environmental and economic consequences.

Lampreys and Zebra Mussels destroyed Great Lakes fisheries; the Nile Perch and Water Hyacinth took over Lake Victoria. But another class of invaders may be wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems undetected by watchful eyes.

Michael Roy and Renate Sponer suspect the ‘world’s most common brittlestar’, a six armed inhabitant of shallow coral reefs, may have invaded the western Atlantic in fouling communities on ships over the last two centuries.

Genetic markers indicate massive long-distance dispersal and recent mixing of brittlestar populations from the western Pacific and Indian Ocean. Populations in the Eastern Pacific look relatively more isolated and stable.

The brittlestars (Ophiactis savignyi) in the Atlantic sort out into two groups: one that probably evolved over the last 3 million years since the rise of the Isthmus of Panama, and another related to the Indo-Pacific group, which probably represents animals introduced fairly recently.

Despite improved marine paint and faster moving ships, an amazing variety of marine organisms continue to foul bottom surfaces and sea chests of oceangoing vessels.

“We have no idea what the consequences of mixing populations are, since we know almost nothing about the ecological role of these brittlestars, but this result suggests there are likely to be many other cryptic invaders out there--a huge conservation problem,” according to Roy.

Michael Roy is Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Zoology, University of Otago Aotearoa-New Zealand. Renate Sponer is a Research and Lab Manager at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.

Ref: M.S. Roy and R. Sponer. 2002. Evidence of a human-mediated invasion of the tropical western Atlantic by the ‘world’s most common brittlestar. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Vol. 269:1495, p. 1017, DOI 10.1098/rspb.2002.1977 http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/proc_bio/proc_bio.html

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), with headquarters in Panama City, Panama, is one of the world's leading centers for basic research on the ecology, behavior and evolution of tropical organisms. http://www.stri.org


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Smithsonian Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Smithsonian Institution. "Ominous Signs Of Cryptic Marine Invasions: Common Brittlestars Jumped The Isthmus Of Panama Approximately Two Centuries Ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020513075004.htm>.
Smithsonian Institution. (2002, May 13). Ominous Signs Of Cryptic Marine Invasions: Common Brittlestars Jumped The Isthmus Of Panama Approximately Two Centuries Ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020513075004.htm
Smithsonian Institution. "Ominous Signs Of Cryptic Marine Invasions: Common Brittlestars Jumped The Isthmus Of Panama Approximately Two Centuries Ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020513075004.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins