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 Designed proteins to treat muscular dystrophy
29.06.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Funding of Collaborative Research Center developing nanomaterials for cancer immunotherapy extended
28.06.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

High conductive foils enabling large area lighting

29.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Designed proteins to treat muscular dystrophy

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Climate Fluctuations & Non-equilibrium Statistical Mechanics: An Interdisciplinary Dialog

29.06.2017 | Seminars Workshops

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>