Distribution and Diversity of Tunicates Utilizing Eelgrass as Substrate in the Western North Atlantic: A Latitudinal Study Between N 39° and N 47°
|Title||Distribution and Diversity of Tunicates Utilizing Eelgrass as Substrate in the Western North Atlantic: A Latitudinal Study Between N 39° and N 47°|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Authors||Carman, MR, Colarusso, PD, Nelson, EP, Grunden, DW, Wong, MC, McKenzie, C, Matheson, K, Davidson, J, Fox, S, Neckles, H, Bayley, H, Schott, S, Dijkstra, JA, Stewart-Clark, S|
|Journal||Management of Biological Invasions|
|Date Published||February 8|
|Keywords||Ascidiacea, eelgrass, invasive species, tunicates, Zostera marina|
Seagrass meadows are ecologically important habitats that are declining globally at an accelerating rate due to natural and anthropogenic stressors. Their decline is a serious concern as this habitat provides many ecosystem services. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is the dominant seagrass species in the western North Atlantic. It has recently been established that invasive tunicate species possibly threaten the health of eelgrass beds. Colonization of eelgrass leaves by tunicates can inhibit eelgrass growth and may cause shoot mortality. To document the distribution and diversity of tunicate species that attach to eelgrass in the western North Atlantic, we surveyed twenty-one eelgrass sites from New Jersey to Newfoundland. Eight species of tunicates were found to be colonizing eelgrass, of which 6 are considered invasive.