Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 2000
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 2000
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:

General Invasion History:

Branchiomma bairdi is a tube-dwelling sabellid polychaete. It was described from Bermuda by McIntosh in 1885, and is known from central Florida to Atlantic Panama and the Caribbean Islands (Tovar-Hernandez and Knight-Jones 2006). It has been introduced to the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Queensland, Australia, the Mediterranean, and the island of Madeira ( Capa et al. 2004; Tovar-Hernández et al. 2006; Capa et al. 2013; Ramalhosa et al. 2014; Del Pasqua et al. 2018; Keppel et al. 2018). Recently, it was recognized in samples taken in San Diego Bay, beginning in 2000 (Keppel et al. 2018). Typical habitats for this worm include mangroves, rocks, coral rubble, marina piers, pilings, ropes, boat hulls, oyster and shrimp farms, in shallow waters (intertidal to 6 m) (Capa and Lopez 2005; Bastida-Zavala et al. 2016). Branchiomma bairdi has a lecithotrophic larva and a short planktonic period, so hull fouling is the likeliest vector for introduction.

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

In 2000 Serpulid tubeworms, settled on fouling plates at several marinas and piers in San Diego Bay, California was recently identified as Branchiomma bairdi. This polychaete is established in the Bay. It was found on plates in 2013 (Keppel et al. 2018). These worms were probably transported from established populations in Mexico and Panama.

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:

Invasion History in Hawaii:

Branchiomma bairdi was found on fouling plates in Honolulu Harbor in 2006 and on Coconut Island, on Oahu Hawaii, in 2015 (Keppel et al. 2018). It is likely that B. bairdi was introduced from Mexico or Panama many years earlier.

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

Branchiomma bairdi is a tube-dwelling sabellid polychaete. Adults are simultaneous hermaphrodites, with sperm and oocytes occurring in the same body segments, but are also capable of asexual reproduction, through scissiparity. In this process, a new worm buds off the posterior segments of the abdomen, developing two-tailed appearance, and a branched tube, in the early stages. Budded individuals have fewer thoracic segments, as few as 4 rather than the usual 8. As a result of asexual reproduction, B. bairdi was often found in small groups. Asexual reproduction was common in Mexican Pacific populations (Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2009a; Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2009b), but rare in the Gulf of Taranto, Italy (Lezzi et al. 2016). This worm can undergo hermaphroditic sexual reproduction at the same time as asexual reproduction. Sperm and eggs are released and fertilized in mucus inside the tubes. It is not known whether self-fertilization occurs (Tovar et al. 2011b; Del Pasqua et al. 2017). Larvae reach an early trochophore stage, and begin to swim, searching settlement sites by about 72 hours. The pelagic larval period is less than 3 days. Soon after settlement, the larvae develop a rudimentary radiolar crown, and begin feeding (Del Pasqua et al. 2017). The life cycle is annual in the Mediterranean (Lezzi et al. 2016). 
 
Branchiomma bairdi is known from a wide range of fouling communities in warm-temperate to tropical waters. The low temperature tolerance is not known for this species, but growth and reproduction are reduced in the winter in the Gulf of Taranto, Mediterranean (Lezzi et al. 2016). In the Gulf of California, they tolerate temperatures up to 32 C, salinities of 26 to 47 PSU, and oxygen as low as 3.05 mg/l. It can also tolerate up to 24 hours of desiccation (Keppel et al. 2015). Typical habitats for this worm include mangroves, rocks, coral rubble, marina piers, pilings, ropes, boat hulls, oyster, and shrimp farms, in shallow waters (intertidal to 6 m) (Capa and Lopez 2005; Arias et al. 2013; Keppel et al. 2015; Lezzi et al. 2016; Bastida-Zavala et al. 2016). Sabellids are suspension feeders, feeding on phytoplankton and detritus particles through downstream ciliary entrainment on radioles (Fauchald and Jumars 1979). In Mediterranean populations, a wide range of invertebrates were found living in association with B. bairdi's tubes, including mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, polychaetes, bryozoans, and tunicates (Giangrande et al. 2012; Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2012; Arias et al. 2013). These worms are vulnerable to predators, as indicated by missing or regenerating radioles (Keppel et al. 2015). 


Description

Branchiomma bairdi is a tube-dwelling sabellid polychaete. Sabellids are often called 'feather-duster worms' and are characterized by having a prostomium with the palps modified into a crown of paired feather-like radioles. The peristomium is modified into an anterior collar, into which the radioles can be withdrawn. The body has a short thoracic region (6-8 chaetigers) and a longer abdominal region, of a few-to-many chaetigers. A ciliated ventral groove runs from the ventral anus along the ventral side of the abdomen and then swings to the dorsal side of the thorax, continuing as a divide in the peristomial collar (Blake and Ruff 2007). 
 
In worms of the genus Branchiomma, the oral region is surrounded by a crown of numerous radioles, comprising 25-50% of body length. The rachis (central shaft) of the radiole bears pairs of epithelial flaps called stylodes, which are evenly spaced along the rachis. The stylodes can vary in shape, resembling straps, fingers, leaves, paddles, tongues, etc. Some species have 1-3 pairs of macrostylodes, at least twice the size of neighboring pairs. Paired compound eyes are located along the length of the radioles. A pair of dorsal lips, occur dorsolateral to the mouth – these are ciliated, tongue-like structures, about 25-50% of the length of the radiolar crown. Ventral lips are present. Eyespots are present between the rami of the parapodia of the thorax and abdomen. Parapodia are short, with bundles of notochaetae and neurochetae on elevations (tori) on each chaetiger. The dorsal thoracic notochaetae are elongate and narrowly hooded, while the more ventral notochaetae are spinelike, arranged in bundles, forming irregular, longitudinal chaetal rows. The thoracic chaetigers also bear rows of uncinae, short, deeply embedded chaetae, avicular (bird-like) in form, with small teeth above the main fang and very short handle. 
 
Branchiomma bairdi ranges from 13 to 44 mm long and its body color varies from dark olive-green with white spots to pale or dark brownish with black spots or yellow-green, with brown and white spots. The branchial crown has green, brown, or orange bands alternating with white bands around the radioles, each band occupying the space of three pinnules and with color extending into the pinnules and stylodes—epithelial flaps that are evenly spaced along the rachis (central shaft). The rachis has orange rhomboid spots. Its radiolar crown consists of 10–24 radioles surrounding the oral region, comprising about one-third to one half the body length. The radioles are united at the base by a reduced web-like membrane and the base bears longitudinal bands of diffuse brown spots in line with each radiole axil. The basal stylodes are paired and finger-like, shorter, or equal to the width of the rachis. Two pairs of macrostylodes are located in the distal half of the radioles and are long (2–3x longer than the stylodes) and strap-like. The radiolar eyes are red to orange, small and compound, and not present between the last pair of stylodes and the tip of the radiole. The dorsal lips—ciliated, tongue-like structures—are long, about 1/3 the length of the radioles and tapering, supported by a longitudinal ridge or mid-rib. The dorsal collar has free, well-separated margins, with lateral margins above the junction of the crown and thorax. The collar bears spine-like chaetae in compact bundles. The uncini are avicular and occupy about one-third of the crest, with the crest surmounted by two rows of teeth, with three distinct teeth in the anterior row and a few very small teeth. There are 4–9 thoracic segments and 30–75 abdominal chaetigers. The ventral shields are rectangular, with the first anterior shield wider than the posterior ones, which are uniform in size. The thoracic tori are next to the ventral shields. The abdominal tori are smaller than those on the thorax. There is a fecal groove passing around the right side of body, from last thoracic segment to the second segment of the ventral abdomen and on to the bilobed pygidium (Tovar-Hernandez and Knight-Jones 2006; Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2009; Cepeda and Rodrigues-Flores 2017; Del Pasqua et al. 2018; Keppel et al. 2018). 


Taxonomy

Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Annelida
Class:   Polychaeta
Subclass:   Palpata
Order:   Canalipalpata
Suborder:   Sabellida
Family:   Sabellidae
Genus:   Branchiomma
Species:   bairdi

Synonyms

Dasychone bairdi (McIntosh, 1885)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Branchiomma boholensis
Branchiomma boholensis is an Indo-Pacific species, introduced to the Mediterranean (Licciano et al. 2006).

Branchiomma coheni
Branchiomma coheni is an Eastern Pacific species, known from Baja California to Panama, introduced to Tampa Bay, Florida (Keppel et al. 2015)

Branchiomma conspersum
Branchiomma conspersumi is native to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, and has been introduced to Hawaii and Australia (Keppel et al. 2018).

Branchiomma luctuosum
Branchiomma luctuosum is native to the Indo-Pacific, and has invaded the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal (Licciano and Giangrande 2008).

Ecology

General:

Branchiomma bairdi is a tube-dwelling sabellid polychaete. Adults are simultaneous hermaphrodites, with sperm and oocytes occurring in the same body segments, but are also capable of asexual reproduction, through scissiparity. In this process, a new worm buds off the posterior segments of the abdomen, developing two-tailed appearance, and a branched tube, in the early stages. Budded individuals have fewer thoracic segments, as few as 4 rather than the usual 8. As a result of asexual reproduction, B. bairdi was often found in small groups. Asexual reproduction was common in Mexican Pacific populations (Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2009a; Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2009b), but rare in the Gulf of Taranto, Italy (Lezzi et al. 2016). This worm can undergo hermaphroditic sexual reproduction at the same time as asexual reproduction. Sperm and eggs are released and fertilized in mucus inside the tubes. It is not known whether self-fertilization occurs (Tovar et al. 2011b; Del Pasqua et al. 2017). Larvae reach an early trochophore stage, and begin to swim, searching settlement sites by about 72 hours. The pelagic larval period is less than 3 days. Soon after settlement, the larvae develop a rudimentary radiolar crown, and begin feeding (Del Pasqua et al. 2017). The life cycle is annual in the Mediterranean (Lezzi et al. 2016). 
 
Branchiomma bairdi is known from a wide range of fouling communities in warm-temperate to tropical waters. The low temperature tolerance is not known for this species, but growth and reproduction are reduced in the winter in the Gulf of Taranto, Mediterranean (Lezzi et al. 2016). In the Gulf of California, they tolerate temperatures up to 32 C, salinities of 26 to 47 PSU, and oxygen as low as 3.05 mg/l. It can also tolerate up to 24 hours of desiccation (Keppel et al. 2015). Typical habitats for this worm include mangroves, rocks, coral rubble, marina piers, pilings, ropes, boat hulls, oyster and shrimp farms, in shallow waters (intertidal to 6 m) (Capa and Lopez 2005; Arias et al. 2013; Keppel et al. 2015; Lezzi et al. 2016; Bastida-Zavala et al. 2016). Sabellids are suspension feeders, feeding on phytoplankton and detritus particles through downstream ciliary entrainment on radioles (Fauchald and Jumars 1979). In Mediterranean populations, a wide range of invertebrates were found living in association with B. bairdi's tubes, including mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, polychaetes, bryozoans, and tunicates (Giangrande et al. 2012; Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2012; Arias et al. 2013). These worms are vulnerable to predators, as indicated by missing or regenerating radioles (Keppel et al. 2015). 

Food:

Phytoplankton, detritus

Consumers:

Crabs, shrimps, fishes

Competitors:

Other tube-dwelling polychaetes

Trophic Status:

Suspension feeder

Habitats

General HabitatMarinas & DocksNone
General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatRockyNone
General HabitatOyster ReefNone
General HabitatVessel HullNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
General HabitatCoral reefNone

Life History


Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)18.4Field, Keppel et al. 2016
Maximum Temperature (ºC)32.1Field, Keppel et al. 2016
Minimum Salinity (‰)25.6Field, Keppel et al. 2016
Maximum Salinity (‰)47Field, Keppel et al. 2016
Maximum Length (mm)41Keppel et al. 2016
Broad Temperature RangeNoneWarm-Temperate-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Branchiomma bairdi is a tube-dwelling sabellid polychaete capable of rapid sexual and asexual reproduction. It has developed dense populations in Mediterranean lagoons and harbors, and in estuaries in Sinaloa, Mexico (Arias et al. 2013; Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2011; Lezzi et al. 2016). Among its favored habitats are aquaculture operations, where it can foul oysters, cllture ponds, and water pipes (Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2012). This worm is also an ecological engineer, creating dense clusters of tubes which can be colonized by a wide range of invertebrates (Giangrande et al. 2012; Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2012; Arias et al. 2013).


Regional Impacts

NEP-VIIINoneEconomic ImpactFisheries
Branchiomma bairdi has formed dense populations in shrimp and oyster farms, fouling oysters, water pipes, and rearing ponds. It also fouls nets and other fishing equipment (Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2012)
NEP-VIIINoneEcological ImpactHabitat Change
The numerous tubes of Branchiomma bairdi colonies can become densely fouled with mollusks, bryozoans, and tunicates (Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2012).
NEP-VIIINoneEconomic ImpactIndustry
Branchiomma bairdi can foul industrial seawater pipes (Tovar-Hernandez et al. 2012).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
NA-ET4 Bermuda 1885 Native Estab
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 0 Native Estab
CAR-II None 0 Native Estab
CAR-III None 0 Native Estab
CAR-IV None 0 Native Estab
AUS-XII None 2010 Def Estab
SEP-H None 1998 Def Estab
NEP-VIII None 2008 Def Estab
WA-I None 2012 Def Estab
NEP-VII None 2010 Def Estab
PAN_PAC Panama Pacific Coast 1998 Def Estab
PAN_CAR Panama Caribbean Coast 0 Native Estab
SEP-Z None 2017 Def Estab
MED-IV None 2007 Def Estab
MED-II None 2016 Def Estab
NEP-VI Pt. Conception to Southern Baja California 2000 Def Estab
P020 San Diego Bay 2000 Def Estab
SP-XXI None 2006 Def Estab
MED-V None 2005 Def Estab
MED-III None 2004 Def Unk
MED-VII None 2012 Def Unk
MED-II None 2006 Def Estab
MED-VI None 2005 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude

References

Abdelsalam, Khaled Mahmood (2018) First record of the exotic lysmatid shrimp Lysmata vittata (Stimpson, 1860) (Decapoda: Caridea: Lysmatidae) from the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, Mediterranean Marine Science 19(1): 124-131

Arias, A.; Giangrande, A.; Gambi, M. C.; Anadón, N. (2013) Biology and new records of the invasive species Branchiomma bairdi (Annelida: Sabellidae) in the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean Marine Science 14(1): 162-171

Bastida-Zavala, J. Rolando; Rodríguez Buelna, Alondra Sofía; De León-González, Jesús Angel; Camacho-Cruz, Karla Andrea; Carmona, Isabel (2016) New records of sabellids and serpulids (Polychaeta: Sabellidae, Serpulidae) from the Tropical Eastern Pacific, Zootaxa 4184: 401-457

Capa, Maria; Pons, Joan; Hutchings, Pat (2013) Cryptic diversity, intraspecific phenetic plasticity and recent geographical translocations in Branchiomma (Sabellidae, Annelida), Zoologica Scripta 42(6): 637-655

Carlton, James T.; Keith, Inti; Ruiz, Gregory M. (2019) Assessing marine bioinvasions in the Galápagos Islands: implications for conservation biology and marine protected areas, Aquatic Invasions 14(1): 1-20

Cepeda, D.; Rodriguez-Flores, P. C. (2017) First record of the invasive worm Branchiomma bairdi(Annelida: Sabellidae) in the Balearic Sea (Western Mediterranean), Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 98(Special Issue 8): 1955-1963

Chainho, Paula and 20 additional authors (2015) Non-indigenous species in Portuguese coastal areas, lagoons, estuaries, and islands, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science <missing volume>: <missing location>

Çinar, Melih Ertan (2009) Alien polychaete species (Annelida: Polychaeta) on the southern coast of Turkey (Levantine Sea, eastern Mediterranean), with 13 new records for the Mediterranean Sea, Journal of Natural History 43(37-38): <missing location>

Cinar, Melih Ertan and 7 authors (2021) Current status (as of end of 2020) of marine alien species in Turkey, PLOS ONE 16: Published online

Del Pasqua, Michela; Schulze, Anja; Tovar-Hernandez, Maria Ana; Keppel, Erica; Marco Lezzi;, Maria; Gambi, Maria Cristina ; Giangrande, Adriana (2018) Clarifying the taxonomic status of the alien species Branchiomma bairdi and (Annelida: Sabellidae) using molecular and morphological evidence, PLOS ONE 13(5): Published online

Falls, Justin A. (2008) <missing title>, <missing publisher>, <missing place>. Pp. 1-69

Fauchald, Kristian; Jumars, Peter A. (1979) The diet of worms : A study of polychaete feeding guilds, Oceanography and Marine Biology, an Annual Review 17: 193-284

Licciano, Margherita; Giangrande, Adriana (2008) The genus Branchiomma (Polychaeta: Sabellidae) in the Mediterranean Sea, with the description of B. maerli n. sp., Scientia Marina 73(3): 383-391

Low-Pfeng, Antonio; Recagno, Edward M. Peters (2012) <missing title>, Geomare, A. C., INESEMARNAT, Mexico. Pp. 236

Okolodkov, Yuri B. and 7 authors (2007) Especies acuáticas no indígenas en México., Ciencia y Mar 11(32): 29-67

Ramalhosa, Patrício; Camacho-Cruz, Karla; Bastida-Zavala, Rolando;Canning-Clode, João (2014) First record of Branchiomma bairdi McIntosh, 1885 (Annelida: Sabellidae) from Madeira Island, Portugal (northeastern Atlantic Ocean), BioInvasions Records 3(3): in press

Rivera, Reinaldo; Pinochet, Javier; Brante, Antonio (2022) Ecological niche dynamics of three invasive marine species under the conservatism and shift niche hypotheses, Aquatic Invasions <missing volume>: Published online

Tovar-Hernández, M. A.; Villalobos-Guerrero, T. F.; Yáñez-Rivera, B., Aguilar-Camacho, J. M.; Ramírez-Santana, I. D. (2012) [Guide to exotic aquatic invertebrates in Sinaloa] , Geomare, A. C., USFWS, INE-SEMARNAT, Mazatlán, México. Pp. 41

Tovar-Hernández, María Ana; Knight-Jones, Phyllis (2006) Species of Branchiomma (Polychaeta: Sabellidae) from the Caribbean Sea and Pacific coast of Panama, Zootaxa 1189: 1-37

Tovar-Hernandez, Maria Ana; Mendez, Nuria; Villalobos-Guerrero, Tulio Fabio (2009) Fouling polychaete worms from the southern Gulf of California: Sabellidae and Serpulidae, Systematics and Biodiversity 7(3): 319-336

2002-2021 Invertebrate Zoology Collections Database. <missing description>

Wesselingh, Frank P. and 20 authors (2019) Mollusc species from the Pontocaspian region- an expert opinion list, ZooKeys 824: 31-124

Witman, Jon D. Lamb, Robert W. (2017) Persistent differences between coastal and offshore kelp forest communities in a warming Gulf of Maine, PLOSOne 1(2): 12