Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Invasive brittle star species hits Atlantic Ocean

Date:
August 16, 2012
Source:
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Summary:
Coral Reefs has published online a study about an invasive species of brittle star. The species was previously restricted to Pacific waters, but surprisingly, growing populations have established themselves at distant points in the Atlantic. Its presence near Brazilian and Caribbean ports indicates that O. mirabilis could have been spread by shipping.

Coral Reefs, the Journal of the International Society for Reef Studies, has published online a study co-written by Dr. Gordon Hendler of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) about an invasive species of brittle star, Ophiothela mirabilis. The species was previously restricted to Pacific waters, but surprisingly, growing populations have established themselves at distant points in the Atlantic. Its presence near Brazilian and Caribbean ports indicates that O. mirabilis could have been spread by shipping.

The marine animal is colorful and six-rayed. It clings in multitudes to corals and sponges and reproduces asexually, by splitting in two and regenerating severed body structures. The ability of one star to "clone" vast numbers of identical twins enormously increases the species capacity to proliferate and disperse.

The impact of the ophiothela brittle star remains to be seen. Like most marine invertebrates (except for commercially important species) we know little about its biology, so it is difficult to envision how it will affect the ecology of its new ocean. But further expansion of the range of Ophiothela could alter the appearance and the ecology of Atlantic coral reef habitats because ophiothelas, in multitudes, densely colonize gorgonians and sponges on Indo-West central Pacific and on tropical eastern Pacific reefs.

"I imagine that when my grandchildren learn to scuba dive," Hendler says, "Caribbean reefs will look very different than they do today, in part because many corals and sponges may be covered with a network of invasive yellow brittle stars."

Invasive species have a massive impact on our economy and our environment, causing over 100 billion dollars of damage in the U.S. alone, every year. Invasive echinoderm species are exceptional (invasive plants and insects are much more numerous). Probably the best known is the Japanese sea star (Asterias amurensis) that was native to the north Pacific and now damages fisheries in Tasmania and southern Australia. Notably, it is among the species that recently washed ashore in Oregon on Japanese Tsunami debris.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Hendler, A. E. Migotto, C. R. R. Ventura, L. Wilk. Epizoic Ophiothela brittle stars have invaded the Atlantic. Coral Reefs, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s00338-012-0936-6

Cite This Page:

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. "Invasive brittle star species hits Atlantic Ocean." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120816092455.htm>.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. (2012, August 16). Invasive brittle star species hits Atlantic Ocean. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120816092455.htm
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. "Invasive brittle star species hits Atlantic Ocean." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120816092455.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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