Invasion HistoryFirst Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1997
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record:
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1997
General Invasion History:
Ficopomatus uschakovi was first described by Pillai, from Sri Lanka in 1960. Many tubeworm specimens from India, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Queensland, which were originally identified as F. enigmaticus were re-identified as F. uschakovi by ten Hove and Weerdenberg (1978). The Indo-Pacific range of this worm includes the Solomon Islands and Queensland, Australia in the east, and the Philippines, Brunei, and India, to the west. Established populations in West Africa, from Ivory Coast to Nigeria, in the Gulf of Guinea (Zabi and Le Loeuff1993; ten Hove and Weerdenberg 1978) are probably introduced. Populations have recently been found on the Atlantic coast of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil (de Assis et al. 2009; Liñero-Arana and Díaz-Díaz 2012; US National Museum of Natural History 2012; Ruiz et al., unpublished data). On the Pacific Coast, this tubeworm has been found in Panama Bay (Ruiz et al., unpublished data) and in Chiapas, Mexico (Bastida-Zavala and García-Madrigal 2012). Ficopomatus uschakovi is tolerant of a wide range of salinities, and is easily transported in hull fouling and ballast water (ten hove and Weerdenburg 1978).
North American Invasion History:
Invasion History on the East Coast:
In 2002, F. uschakovi was found on fouling plates in Jacksonville, Florida and in 2004, it was found near the port of Miami in Biscayne Bay (Ruiz et al., unpublished data). The number of settled worms in both ports was indicative of established populations.
Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:
In 1997, two specimens of F. uschakovi were found in the Pascagoula River, Mississippi (USNM 186523, US National Museum of Natural History 2008). In 2000-2002, specimens were found on plates in several locations in Galveston and Corpus Christi Bays, Texas (Ruiz et al., unpublished data).
Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:
Ficopomatus uschakovi, on biogeographical grounds, appears to have been introduced to West Africa, from the Indo-Pacific. The oldest specimens that we know of from the Atlantic were collected from Lagos, Nigeria in 1954 (ten Hove and Weerdenberg 1978). This tubeworm was abundant in the port areas of the Lagos Lagoon, on rocks, mangroves, and oyster shells (Zabi and Le Loeuff 1993). It has also been collected in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and Cotonou, Benin (ten Hove and Weerdenberg 1978). In South America, it was found among mangroves near João Pessoa, in Paraiba state, Brazil, in a tidal creek of the Sanhauá River in 2004 (de Assis et al. 2008), and in Caño Morocoto, in the Orinocco delta, Venezuela, in 2008, attached to large boulders (Liñero-Arana and Díaz-Díaz 2012). Ficopomatus uschakovi has also been collected in Panama Bay, near the mouth of the Panama Canal (2008, Ruiz et al., unpublished data), and in La Encrucijada Biosphere Reserve, Chiapas, Mexico (Bastida-Zavala and García-Madrigal 2012). A few specimens were collected in the Netherlands, from tropical wood which was cast up on the shore in 1974. This wood was presumably brought from the tropics in the lumber trade (ten Hove and Weerdenberg 1978).
Ficopomatus uschakovi secretes a calcareous tube, as do other serpulid polychaetes. Serpulids have a feathery crown of modified prostomial palps, called radioles (the prostomium is the first segment, projecting above the mouth). The radioles can be folded and withdrawn into the tube. One of the radioles is modified to form an operculum, which acts as a plug when the animal contracts. The peristomium (segment behind the mouth) is folded back to form a collar, which bears uniramous parapodia, with a distinctive set of collar chaetae, with spines or serrations. The collar is the first of seven thoracic chaeta-bearing segments (chaetigers). The subsequent segments have biramous parapodia. The dorsal branch of the parapodium is called the notopodium; the ventral is the neuropodium. Chaetae in the two branches and along the body can vary greatly in their morphology (Description from: ten Hove and Weerdenburg 1978; Barnes 1983).
The tube of F. uschakovi is bright white, but older parts may be covered by a brown layer, possibly algae. The tube is semicircular in cross-section, and often has more or less prominent irregularly placed flaring rings, indicating the previous positions of the peristome. The tubes usually have three prominent longitudinal keels, which are less conspicuous towards the mouths of the tubes. The tubes are about 1 mm in diameter. The branchial (gill) radioles arise from paired lobes. There are about 8 (5-10) on the left and 9 (6-11) on the right, forming two semicircles, on either side of the mouth. The feathery filaments of the branchiae (pinnulae) are larger towards the ends of the radioles. The operculum is roughly globular with a concave distal surface, and with circular rows of outwardly curved terminal spines. The gills and operculum account for about 1/4 of the length of the worm. The peduncle of the operculum is circular to subtriangular in cross-section. The thorax consists of 7 segments. The collar (first thoracic segment) is high and not lobed, with a smooth edge, and is continuous with the thoracic membranes, which are fused dorsally. There are two kinds of collar chaetae, thicker coarsely serrated chaetae, and hair-like (limbate). The subsequent thoracic segments bear short, rasplike chaetae, called uncinae, and limbate chaetae. The abdomen has about 40 segments (18-46, n=7, ten Hove and Weerdenburg 1978). The overall length of the worm reaches about 10 mm, but some populations do not exceed 5 mm (ten Hove and Weerdenberg 1978). Specimens collected in Venezuela were larger, 7-16 mm, with 59-112 abdominal segments (Liñero-Arana et al. 2012). Zabi and Le Loeuff (1993) reported finding tubes 20-30 mm long in West Africa. The largest specimens reported by Hill (1967, as Mercierella enigmatica) reached 40 mm. The radioles and gill filaments may be tinged with orange, while the gill filaments are often barred with brown. This worm may grow in colonies consisting of large masses of brown and white worm tubes. It is typical found in estuaries, particularly in brackish waters. (Description from: ten Hove and Weerdenberg 1978; Zabi and Le Loeuff 1993; de Assis et al. 2008; Liñero-Arana and Diaz-Diaz 2012).
Neopomatus similis (Pillai, 1960)
Neopomatus similis var. rugosus (None, None)
Neopomatus uschakovi (Pillai, 1960)
Neopomatus uschakovi var. lingaynensis (Pillai, 1960)
Neopomatus ushakovi (Hartmann-Schröder, 1971)
Potentially Misidentified Species
Life History – The serpulid polychaete, Ficopomatus uschakovi, feeds by extending its feathery gills and trapping plankton in the water column, which are transported by cilia to the mouth. The sexes are mostly separate, as in most serpulids, although some young hermaphrodites have been seen in F. enigmaticus. Spawning occurred during the dry season December-February, in the Lagos Lagoon, Nigeria. Eggs and sperm are released into the water column. The larvae are planktotrophic, and are reported to spend about a week in the plankton. (Information from: Zabi and Le Loeuff1993; de Assis et al. 2008; Liñero-Arana and Díaz-Díaz 2012).
Ecology – Adult F. uschakovi can tolerate a wide range of salinities, 0-33 PSU (Zabi and Le Loeuf 1993), but its temperature tolerance is unknown. Based on its occurrence in the southeastern US, it appears to be capable of tolerating cool winters. It is not clear whether F. uschakovi forms extensive reefs like F. enigmaticus does. Field reports describe 'conglomerates' (Brazil, de Assis et al al. 2008) or 'encrusting colonies' (Nigeria, Zabi and Le Loeuf 1993), on mangrove roots, but do not mention extensive reefs. Like other serpulid polychaetes, F. uschakovi, secretes a calcareous tube and can be found on hard surfaces such as rocks, pilings, floats, shells, wood, and mangroves.
|General Habitat||Coarse Woody Debris||None|
|General Habitat||Marinas & Docks||None|
|General Habitat||Oyster Reef||None|
|Salinity Range||Mesohaline||5-18 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Polyhaline||18-30 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Euhaline||30-40 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Oligohaline||0.5-5 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Limnetic||0-0.5 PSU|
Tolerances and Life History Parameters
|Minimum Salinity (‰)||0||Field and laboratory, Lagoon of Lagos, Nigeria (Zabi and LeLoeuff 1991)|
|Maximum Salinity (‰)||33||Field and laboratory, Lagoon of Lagos, Nigeria (Zabi and LeLoeuff 1991, highest tested?)|
|Minimum Reproductive Salinity||3||Field and laboratory, Lagoon of Lagos, Nigeria (Zabi and LeLoeuff 1991)|
|Maximum Reproductive Salinity||33||Field and laboratory, Lagoon of Lagos, Nigeria((Zabi and LeLoeuff 1991, highest tested?)|
|Minimum Duration||7||'une semaine'('a week) in the plankton (Zabi and LeLoeuff 1991)|
|Maximum Length (mm)||40||From Lagos Lagoon, Nigeria (1967, as Merceriella enigmatica), but maximum sizes of other populations are 5-17 mm (ten Hove and Weerdenburg 1978; Liñero-Arana et al. 2012)|
|Broad Temperature Range||None||Warm temperate-Tropical|
|Broad Salinity Range||None||Oligohaline-Euhaline|
The serpulid tubeworm Ficopomatus uschakovi has been introduced to West Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, and the southeastern US. (Zabi and Le Loeuff 1993; de Assis et al. 2008; Liñero-Arana and Díaz-Díaz 2012; Ruiz et al., unpublished data). This species has the potential to foul boat hulls, navigational structures, and power plants. While abundant local populations have been reported in Nigeria and Brazil, no ecological or economic impacts have been described.
Regional Distribution Map
|Bioregion||Region Name||Year||Invasion Status||Population Status|
|CAR-I||Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida||1997||Def||Estab|
|G310||Corpus Christi Bay||2000||Def||Estab|
|CAR-VII||Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida||2002||Def||Estab|
|S180||St. Johns River||2002||Def||Estab|
|G160||East Mississippi Sound||1997||Def||Estab|
|PAN_PAC||Panama Pacific Coast||2008||Def||Estab|
|2756||US National Museum of Natural History 2008||1997||1997-11-11||Biloxi||Def||30.3958||-88.8853|
|2757||Ruiz et al., unpublished data||2002||2002-09-05||Coast Guard, Corpus Christi||Def||27.8149||-97.4042|
|2758||Ruiz et al., unpublished data||2002||2002-09-06||Sealab and Port of Christi, Corpus Christi||Def||27.8286||-97.3910|
|2759||Ruiz et al., unpublished data||None||2002-09-18||Bolivar Yacht Basin, Galveston area||Def||29.4286||-94.7084|
|2760||Ruiz et al., unpublished data||2002||2002-09-20||Outbound Texas City Dike||Def||29.3762||-94.8473|
|2762||Ruiz et al., unpublished data||None||2002-09-18||US Coast Guard, Galveston area||Def||29.3331||-94.7722|
|6768||Ruiz et al. unpublished data||2002||2002-08-01||Port of Jacksonville||Def||30.3450||-81.6222|
|6967||Liñero-Arana and Díaz-Díaz 2012||2008||2008-05-22||Caño Morocoto||Def||10.2717||-62.9895|
|7262||Ruiz et al., unpublished data||2008||2008-01-01||Panama Bay||Def||8.8333||-79.2500|
|7263||Ruiz et al., unpublished data||2004||2004-01-01||Miami area||Def||25.7742||-80.3378|
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