Invasion HistoryFirst Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1873
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1873
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:
General Invasion History:
The gribble Limnoria quadripunctata was described from the Netherlands by Holthuis in 1949 (Menizies 1957). Historically, most gribbles (wood-boring isopods) were identified as L. lignorum, a widespread Northern Hemisphere, cold-water species. However, taxonomic studies by Holthuis (1949b), Menzies (1957) and Cookson (1990) have described many species – Cookson lists 28, most of them tropical. Limnoria quadripunctata is mostly temperate-subtropical in its range (Menzies 1957), though records are known from the Philippines (Wallour 1960) and Belize (USNM 1088390, US Museum of Natural History 2007). In the Northeast Atlantic (Jones 1963) and Northeast Pacific (Carlton 1979; Cohen and Carlton 1995), L. quadripunctata is recognized as an introduced species. The temperate south Pacific is a possible native region, given the large number of records reported by Cookson (1990) from southern Australia, New Zealand, and a wide range on the coast of Chile (Haye et al. 2012). In Chile, L. quadripunctata bores extensively into Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) as well as wood, so rafting on either is a potential mechanism of dispersal in the southern Hemisphere. Genetic analysis supports a rapid population expansion of L. quadripunctata in Chile in the late Pleistocene (Haye et al. 2012).
North American Invasion History:
Invasion History on the West Coast:
A Limnoria species, probably Limnoria quadripunctata, based on its thermal requirements and current distribution, appeared on the San Francisco waterfront in 1873 (Carlton 1979; Cohen and Carlton 1995). Since the species was not described until 1949, and was often identified as L. lignorum, its pattern of spread on the West Coast is not known. However, in 1949-51, it was found throughout California at La Jolla, Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbors, Port Hueneme, Santa Barbara Harbor, Morro Bay, Tomales Bay, Bodega Harbor, and Humboldt Bay (Barnard 1950; Menzies 1957; Wallour 1960). It was collected in Elkhorn Slough in 1935 (MacGinitie 1935, cited by Carlton 1979; Wasson et al. 2001) and in Monterey Bay by 1960 (Wallour 1960; Carlton 1979). Crescent City, California, is the current northern range limit for this species on the Pacific Coast (Lee and Miller, in Morris et al. 1980).
Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:
In the Northeast Atlantic, the presence of this species was not recognized until after its descriptions by Holthuis (1949b) and Menzies (1957). However, examination of preserved samples showed that L. quadripunctata was present in Plymouth, England, by 1930 (Jones 1963). In England, L. quadripunctata was present on the English Channel coast and in the Irish Sea as far north as Dublin, the Isle of Man, and Barrow-in-Furness (~54 N) (Jones 1963). It is also known from the Channel Islands (Jones 1963), the coast of Portugal (Noltin 1995, cited by Junoy and Castelló 2003; Borges et al. 2014c), and in the Mediterranean Sea, the Balearic Islands, Spain (Junoy and Castelló 2003), Banyuls-sur-Mer, France (Borges et al. 2014c) and Trieste, Italy (Menzies and Becker 1957, cited by Cookson 1990). In 2011, it was found in the Azores (Borges and Coata 2014; Borges et al. 2014c). Populations are also known from South Africa, where it is thought to be introduced (Hammersly-Heenan 1897, cited by Griffiths et al. 2011).
In the western Atlantic, L. quadripunctata was found in Bermuda (Wallour 1960) and Belize (in 1985, USNM 1088390, US Museum of Natural History 2009). In the southeast Pacific, L. quadripunctata was found in the wooden hull of a boat, and in suspended wood panels in Valparaiso, Chile in 1967 (Antezana 1968). However, this gribble was later found to be abundant and widespread in Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) along a wide span of the Chilean coast, and probably a late-Pleistocene colonizer of the region (Haye et al. 2012).
Limnoria quadripunctata is a gribble, a small, marine, wood-boring isopod. Limnoria quadripunctata has a small, nearly cylindrical body. The cephalon (head region) is compressed and ovoid, with lateral eyes. The cephalon is distinct from the pereion (thoracic region) and freely rotates. Antennas 1 and 2 are equally anterior, with an obvious scale on Antenna 1. The flagellum of second antenna has 5 segments. The left mandible incisor lacks teeth, instead forming a projecting rasp-and-file device. Its uropods are greatly reduced, with the exopod much shorter than the endopod, and bearing an apical claw.
The anterior dorsal surface of the pleotelson bears four symmetrically arranged tubercles anteriorly. The lateral and posterior edges are not lined with tubercules. Adults are 3-4 mm long, white to pink in color when alive, and yellow when preserved in alcohol.
This description is based on: Holthuis 1949b, Menzies 1957, Cookson 1990, Brusca et al. 2007, and Castelló 2011.
Potentially Misidentified Species
Limnoria lignorum has a circumboreal distribution in the northern Atlantic and Pacific, and is presumed to be native throughout this range (Menzies 1957).
Limnoria tripunctata is widespread and cryptogenic in most warm-temperate and tropical seas. It is introduced on the West Coast of North America, Hawaii, South Africa, New Zealand, and the British Isles (Menzies 1957; Jones 1963; Carlton 1979; Cranfield et al. 1998; Carlton and Eldredge 2009; Mead et al. 2011b).
Limnoria tuberculata has been variously synonymized with or treated as a separate species from L. tripunctata. It was described from the Black Sea by Sowinsky in 1884. Menzies (1972) identified an apparently reproductively isolated population from Chatham, Massachusetts, as this species. Kensley and Schotte (Kensley and Schotte 1987; Kensley and Schotte 1989) have treated this name as the senior synonym of L. tripunctata, but used 'L. tripunctata' in Kensley et al. (1995). However, Cookson (1990) and Castelló (2011) treat L. tuberculata as a separate species. If it is a distinct species, its records are few and scattered, and little is known of its biology.
Limnoria quadripunctata is a gribble - a specialized wood-boring isopod. Sexes are separate and copulation is internal. Typically, in Limnoria spp., a single pair occupies a tunnel, with the female closer to the opening. The young are brooded by the female (Becker 1971). Limnoria quadripunctata in San Francisco Bay had an average brood size of 9.5 young per female (Kofoid and Miller 1927, cited by Eltringham and Hockley 1963). In England, Eltringham and Hockley (1963) found that L. quadripunctata boring in fresh test blocks had more young (11.4 young per female) than animals living in established pilings (4.7 per female).
Limnoria quadripunctata prefers temperate climates and marine salinities. Reproduction occurs at 12-19C, but development was unsuccessful at 25C (Jones 1963; Eltringham 1967). In experiments, this gribble had good survival at salinities of 36-48 PSU, but poor (15-50%) at 18 and 24 PSU (Eltringham 1961). Adults and juveniles swarm seasonally, and colonize new pieces of wood. They prefer rough surfaces of relatively soft wood, preferably infected by fungi (Becker 1971). In Southampton Water, England, migration began in spring at about 10C (Eltringham and Hockley 1963). Limnoria spp. digest non-cellulosic carbohydrates in wood, together with some cellulose, and excrete lignin in pellets, without the aid of gut microflora (Becker 1971; Sleeter et al. 1978). Limnoria spp. host a variety of protozoan epibionts and crustacean symbionts. At least one epibiont, the ciliate Mirofolliculina limnoriae slows the feeding, swimming and growth of Limnoria spp., and is regarded as an ectoparasite (Delgery et al. 2006).
Decaying wood and associated microbiota
|General Habitat||Coarse Woody Debris||None|
|General Habitat||Marinas & Docks||None|
|General Habitat||Vessel Hull||None|
|Salinity Range||Polyhaline||18-30 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Euhaline||30-40 PSU|
|Tidal Range||Low Intertidal||None|
Tolerances and Life History Parameters
|Minimum Salinity (‰)||24||~50% survival for 65 days at 24 PSU, ~15% survival at 18 (Eltringham 1961)|
|Maximum Salinity (‰)||48||Experimental, Eltringham 1961|
|Minimum Reproductive Temperature||12||Jones 1963 (Field data)|
|Maximum Reproductive Temperature||19||Eggs did not reach hatching stage at 25 C (Eltringham 1967).|
|Maximum Length (mm)||3.4||Menzies 1957|
|Broad Temperature Range||None||Cold temperate-Warm temperate|
|Broad Salinity Range||None||Polyhaline-Euhaline|
General ImpactsLimnoria quadripunctata is a wood-boring organism that damages wooden pilings and ship hulls in warm-temperate to tropical marine waters, around the world. It is rare or absent in ports where salinity drops below 20 PSU (Becker 1971; Lum 1981). Gribbles burrow long tunnels, about 1-2 mm in diameter, below the surface of wood, perforating it. Up to 30 Limnoria may live below one cm2 of wood surface. When the wood is thoroughly perforated, it is eroded by waves, and the borers penetrate further. Gribbles have a high oxygen requirement, so that boring is limited to the outer regions of wood. Part of the economic cost of these organisms is the cost and ecological damage of preventive measures, including the use of resistant tropical wood and chemical treatments for marinas, docks, and wooden boats to prevent damage by borers (Becker 1971; Coughlan 1977).
Shipping- Gribble damage to piers in San Francisco Bay was first reported in 1873, and was probably due to L. quadripunctata (Arnold 1873, cited by Carlton 1979; Cohen and Carlton 1995). In Swansea, Wales and Southampton Water, England, heated discharges of power plants prolonged the breeding period of Limnoria quadripunctata and L. tripunctata, increasing damage to wooden docks (Raymont 1976; Coughlan 1977). In Southampton Water, boring by the two Limnoria species removed 6-13% of untreated wooded test blocks (Coughlan 1977).
|NEP-V||Northern California to Mid Channel Islands||Economic Impact||Shipping/Boating|
|Gribble damage to piers in San Francisco Bay was first reported in 1873, and was probably due to L. quadripunctata (Arnold 1873, cited by Carlton 1979).|
|P090||San Francisco Bay||Economic Impact||Shipping/Boating|
|Gribble damage to piers in San Francisco Bay was first reported in 1873, and was probably due to L. quadripunctata (Arnold 1873, cited by Carlton 1979).|
|In Swansea, Wales and Southampton Water, England, heated discharge from power plants prolonged the breeding period of Limnoria quadripunctata and tripunctata , increasing damage to wooden docks (Raymont 1976; Coughlan 1977). In Southampton Water, boring by the two Limnoria species removed 6-13% of untreated wooded test blocks per year (Coughlan 1977).|
|Limnoria tripunctata and L. quadripunctata have become important and destructive woodborers in the Tagus estuary, Portugal (Borges et al. 2010).|
Regional Distribution Map
|Bioregion||Region Name||Year||Invasion Status||Population Status|
|NEP-V||Northern California to Mid Channel Islands||1873||Def||Estab|
|NEP-VI||Pt. Conception to Southern Baja California||1949||Def||Estab|
|NEP-IV||Puget Sound to Northern California||1949||Def||Estab|
|P050||San Pedro Bay||1950||Def||Estab|
|P090||San Francisco Bay||1873||Def||Estab|
|P112||_CDA_P112 (Bodega Bay)||1949||Def||Estab|
|P022||_CDA_P022 (San Diego)||1949||Def||Estab|
|P065||_CDA_P065 (Santa Barbara Channel)||1951||Def||Estab|
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