Among the processes that drive biological invasions, the presence of asexual reproduction, as observed in many polychaetes, is an important feature because it allows a rapid spread and colonization in the invaded site. Despite its ecological importance for benthic communities, studies on the biological invasive context are rare for this abundant taxon. Here, the phylogeographic pattern of a common asexual reproducer polychaete, Timarete punctata, was analyzed at five sites along the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to investigate if its wide distribution is associated to human-mediated transport. Sequences of COI and 16S revealed the presence of two cryptic species. One of them exhibits a wide distribution range (∼14,000 km), very low level of genetic diversity and a high frequency of shared haplotypes along sampled sites. The genetic pattern indicates that this species has probably been introduced in all sampled sites, and its wide distribution is associated to human-mediated transport. In addition, the great capability of T. punctata to reproduce by fragmentation makes the colonization process easier. Thus, the number of alien polychaete species is probably underestimated and future studies are necessary to reach a more realistic perspective.
Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science – Elsevier
Published: Oct 15, 2017
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