Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UNH Scientists Document First Expansion of ‘Sea Potato’ Seaweed Into New England

05.04.2013
There’s a new seaweed in town, a brown, bulbous balloon befitting the nickname “sea potato.” Its New England debut was spotted by two University of New Hampshire plant biology graduate students; now researchers are keeping a close eye on the sea potato’s progress to determine whether there is cause for alarm.

UNH graduate students Lindsay Green and Hannah Traggis discovered the rapid southern expansion of Colpomenia peregrina, also known as sea potato or oyster thief, during a SCUBA diving trip in Kittery, Maine, in the summer of 2011. “We saw this big brown beach ball,” says Traggis, who co-authored a study of their findings in the journal Botanica Marina.

The seaweed was documented in Nova Scotia in the 1960s but never on the U.S. Atlantic coast until Green and Traggis’s diving trip in 2011. In the paper, the authors explain that when they reevaluated photographs sent from concerned individuals in mid-coastal Maine, they confirmed that the seaweed had appeared there in 2010. In the summer of 2012, the sea potato had spread as far south as Sandwich, Mass., on the north shore of Cape Cod.

“It’s just blown up,” says Green, a Ph.D. student from Piermont. “It’s expanded all the way to the Cape in just two years.” While C. peregrina prefers cooler waters, the researchers anticipate that it could extend its range farther south.

Ranging in size from just a few centimeters to the size of a soccer ball, the sea potato is a greenish to yellowish brown sac that fills with air or water. It is epiphytic – it grows on other plants – and it’s quickly become prominent in the rocky intertidal zone of the Gulf of Maine attached to common seaweeds like rockweed or Corallina officinalis, also known as coral weed.

Colpomenia peregrina looks strikingly similar to a native species, Leathesia marina, or sea cauliflower. Sea potato, however, is smoother, thinner and greenish-light brown while sea cauliflower tends to be smaller, stiffer, brain-like and dark brown; the researchers turned to microscopy and DNA analysis to make a definitive identification.

Traggis and Green are quick to characterize the sea potato as an introduced, not invasive, species in New England waters. Nonetheless, its rapid expansion into the Gulf of Maine raises concern. The seaweed earned its “oyster thief” nickname after its introduction to France in the early 1900s led to significant damage to the oyster industry.

“The seaweed was like a balloon attached to the oysters. Literally, whole oyster beds disappeared because they floated away,” says Traggis, a master’s student from Buzzards Bay, Mass. While no negative effects have been reported on New England’s shellfish industry, the researchers note that the region’s oyster industry is valued at $117.6 million.

The researchers and other scientists are keeping a close eye on C. peregrina for other ways it could alter the natural community and native flora. “It occurs in high density on many local seaweeds, and it’s competing with them for space, nutrients and light,” says Green. “In the summer it’s becoming a bit of a nuisance.”

As the warming days bring more people to New England’s shoreline, “we want people to know that this is here and that there are researchers interested in learning about it,” says Green, adding that while there’s no need for citizens to eradicate the sea potato if they find it, they shouldn’t move it around. They encourage beachcombers – the natural beach balls are likely to attract the curiosity of kids in particular – to contact the Department of Marine Resources (Maine: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/index.htm; New Hampshire: http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/marine/; Massachusetts: http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/) when they find C. peregrina.

The paper, “Southern expansion of the brown alga Colpomenia peregrina Sauvageau (Scytosiphonales) in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean,” was published in the December 2012 issue of Botanica Marina. Green was lead author; in addition to Traggis, co-authors were UNH professors of plant biology Arthur Mathieson and Christopher Neefus, and Clinton Dawes of UNH’s Jackson Estuarine Laboratory and the University of South Florida. The project was supported by the NH Sea Grant College Program and received partial funding from the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at UNH.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.

Photographs available to download:

http://www.unh.edu/news/releases/2013/apr/colpomenia2.jpg
Caption: University of New Hampshire graduate student Hannah Traggis holds Colpomenia peregrina found at Fort Stark in New Castle in April 2012

Credit: Hannah Traggis

http://www.unh.edu/news/releases/2013/apr/rockweed.png
“Sea potato” growing on rockweed on Allen Island, Maine
Credit: Lauren Stockwell
http://www.unh.edu/news/releases/2013/apr/colpomenia.jpg
This C. peregrina, or “sea potato,” collected from the Isles of Shoals in Maine and New Hampshire illustrates its size range

Credit: Lindsay Green

Beth Potier | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unh.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht 100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?
15.06.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>