Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)
Reproductive seasonality of the invasive ascidian Didemnum vexillum in New Zealand and implications for shellfish aquaculture
Fletcher L, Forrest B, Atalah J, Bell J 2013. Reproductive seasonality of the invasive ascidian Didemnum vexillum in New Zealand and implications for shellfish aquaculture. Aquaculture Environment Interactions 3(3): 197-211.
The global spread of invasive fouling species poses a significant barrier to the development of shellfish aquaculture, which has led to a need to understand the biological characteristics of fouling species that underpin management. One such fouling species, the colonial ascidian Didemnum vexillum, has become a very successful invader in temperate marine communities worldwide, and is proving problematic in a number of aquaculture regions. To evaluate the scope for managing risks to shellfish aquaculture around seasonal reproductive patterns, we assessed recruitment and larval development of D. vexillum in relation to water temperature, over a 20 mo period at 2 locations in central New Zealand.
Our findings indicate that the reproductive season for D. vexillum in New Zealand is considerably longer than comparable northern-hemisphere populations (at least 9 mo of the year compared with 3 to 5 mo in the USA). Reproductive patterns were strongly correlated with water temperature, with a 3 mo period during the winter months (surface water temperature < 12 degrees C) when larval recruitment was not detected at our study sites. However, during that period, late-stage larvae were often present in tissue sections, suggesting that the species has the potential to recruit year-round, albeit at very low levels during winter. Information on the duration of the reproductive season as well as critical temperature thresholds for spawning will enable more effective risk management in relation to aquaculture industry practices (e.g. timing of seed-stock deployment), as well as assist in the wider management of this species.