Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cornell marine biologist’s persistence leads to discovery of invasive sea squirts in vital Maine fishing grounds

02.09.2005


USGS/NOAA - A colony of Didemnum (sea squirts) encrusts a mussel shell -- typical of the damage being caused by the invasive species in Cobscook Bay, Maine.


Thanks to the doggedness of a Cornell University marine biologist, researchers have discovered that one of Maine’s most important fishing areas has been invaded by an alien tunicate, or sea squirt, that could threaten the commercial fishing industry there.

A rapid assessment survey for marine invasive species in Cobscook Bay in August found a type of sea squirt -- Didemnum sp. -- that can damage ocean floor habitats and commercial species that live there. The survey was conceived and organized by Robin Hadlock Seeley, a visiting fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell.

The invading sea squirt, first documented on the eastern coast of the United States in the 1970s and believed to be the byproduct of importing Japanese oysters for aquaculture, spreads rapidly by forming mats that look like blobs of pancake batter. It already has overrun some 40 square miles of Georges Bank, a prime offshore fishing area about 160 miles from outer Cape Cod.



"When a 2003 Rapid Assessment funded by the Environmental Protection Agency limited its search for invasive species in Maine to Casco Bay in southern Maine, I became very concerned that important bays farther north, such as Cobscook Bay, weren’t included in this survey," said Seeley, whose long-term research has focused on predator-prey interactions in the Cobscook Bay ecosystem.

So she went to The Nature Conservancy about two years ago looking for support, wrote grants to fund a survey of Cobscook Bay within the state of Maine, invited investigators to participate and then coordinated the logistics for some 20 marine biologists to investigate the bay for three days in early August by taking samples from docks, buoys, boat ramps and fish farms.

"We now know that the Didemnum is definitely present in these waters," said Seeley, who noted that the bay is an important source of scallops, mussels, lobsters and clams and is home to salmon and sea urchin aquaculture operations. "We do not yet know, however, to what extent Didemnum has spread throughout the bay. Further research and monitoring is needed."

She noted that the waters of Cobscook Bay, which are near the Canadian border, may be too cold for Didemnum to spread and to pose a major threat to the area at present but that rising sea surface temperatures could allow the squirt to spread in the future.

Her survey not only discovered a potentially threatening species in eastern Maine, but also demonstrated that a locally funded survey could be effective without reliance on federal agencies to fund expensive, large-scale regional projects. In addition to Maine’s chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the survey was supported by Maine Sea Grant, the Cobscook Bay Resource Center, the Maine State Planning Office and the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

"Now that we’ve shown that a local approach to funding and supporting a rapid assessment survey is possible, other coastal communities may want to follow suit to survey their waters to determine if any invasive species are present and whether they pose an ecological or economic threat," said Seeley, who also serves as the associate curator of Cornell’s malacology (mollusks, such as chitons, clams, mussels, snails, sea slugs, octopus and squid) collection.

Other researchers who participated in the three-day survey with Seeley included those from the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire -- including Larry Harris who found theDidemnum as part of the survey -- the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program, the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada and University of Washington.

Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>