Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1871
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1871
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:

General Invasion History:

Limnoria tripunctata is a cosmopolitan wood-boring isopod, found through most of the warmer waters of the world. This species was lumped with L. lignorum, a cold-water, high-latitude species, until they were separated by Menzies (1957). The native region of L. tripunctata is not clear- it may have an Indo-Pacific origin (Kensley, personal communication; Schotte, personal communication), and is widely distributed there, from South Africa to Japan, Polynesia, and Australia (Wallour 1960; Cookson 1990). It is also widespread on both sides of the Atlantic, from Cape Cod to Argentina, and from Portugal to Ghana (Kensley and Schotte 1987). The history of this species in the Atlantic is uncertain, since it was only recognized in 1952. However, Menzies (1957) identifies records and descriptions of ‘L. lignorum’ from the Southeastern US, as early as 1899, as L. tripunctata. Limnoria tripunctata may have been present in the Atlantic for centuries before its description. We regard it as cryptogenic on both sides of the Atlantic, except around the British Isles, where it seems to be a recent arrival, often associated with thermal effluents (Jones 1963).

In the Pacific, Limnoria tripunctata was first reported in Los Angeles Harbor, California (CA) in 1871 (Carlton 1979), and San Diego Bay in 1876 (USNM 2286, collected by R. Hemphill, re-identified as L. tripunctata by Menzies, U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2007). By 1960, it was known from Balboa, Peru (Wallour 1960); the Gulf of California and Bahia San Quintin, Mexico (Menzies 1957); and San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, La Jolla, Santa Catalina Island, Newport Bay, Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbors, and Port Hueneme, California (Menzies 1957; Wallour 1960; Carlton 1979).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

Limnoria tripunctata appears to be definitely introduced on the West Coast of North America, where it was first reported in Los Angeles Harbor, California (CA) in 1871 (Carlton 1979), and San Diego Bay in 1876 (USNM 2286, collected by R. Hemphill, re-identified as L. tripunctata by Menzies, U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2007). It now ranges from the Panama Canal to Vancouver Island, though it appears to be patchily distributed, in particular estuaries, but not others (Menzies 1952; Wallour 1960; Carlton 1979; Quayle 1992). By 1960, it was known from Balboa, Peru (Wallour 1960); the Gulf of California and Bahia San Quintin, Mexico (Menzies 1957); and San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, La Jolla, Santa Catalina Island, Newport Bay, Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbors, and Port Hueneme, California (Menzies 1957; Wallour 1960; Carlton 1979).

In the latter decades of the 20th century, Limnoria tripunctata appears to have extended its range north. It was not found north of San Francisco in 1950s surveys, which included sampling in Coos Bay, Oregon (OR) and Puget Sound, Washington (WA) (Menzies 1957; Wallour 1960). However, it was reported in Coos Bay in 1983 (Carlton 1989); Yaquina Bay, Willapa Bay and the Straits of Georgia in 1964 (Quayle 1992); and Puget Sound in 1998 (Cohen et al. 1998). Limnoria tripunctata in British Columbia is found mainly in oyster-growing areas and semi-enclosed coves, with limited wave action and warmer summer temperatures, but at least five occurrences are known from locations with no history of oyster culture. Wooden boxes used to transport oysters are a likely vector for local distribution of woodborers in British Columbia waters (Quayle 1992).

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:

Invasion History in Hawaii:

Limnoria tripunctata is considered introduced in Hawaii, where it was first found in 1922 in Pearl and Honolulu Harbors on Oahu, and Nauwili Harbor, Kauai (originally identified as L. lignorum; Carlton and Eldredge 2009). It has also been found on Midway Island (Wallour 1960).

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

The native region of Limnoria tripunctata is unknown, because of its late description and distinction from L. lignorum. Limnoria tripunctata is now widespread on the East Coast of North America from Boston Harbor to the Panama Canal, and in South America from Uruguay and Argentina. It is widespread in Europe from La Rochelle, France to Portugal and the Azores, and through the Mediterranean (Bourdillon 1958; Jones 1972, Sen et al. 2010; Borges et al. 2014c; Borges and Costa 2014). In British waters, L. tripunctata appears to be a recent colonist, becoming established in thermal effluents, and colonizing adjacent waters (Jones 1963; Eltringham and Hockley, 1963; Coughlan 1977). In England, it was first found in 1958 in Southampton Water, on the English Channel, and was subsequently found in the Welsh ports of Burry and Swansea on the Irish Sea (Jones 1963). It was reported from Ghana, in the Gulf of Guinea (Cookson 1990), where we consider it cryptogenic. In Cape Town, South Africa, it was first reported from the docks of Table Bay in 2008 (Mead et al. 2011b).

Limnoria tripunctata is widespread in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific, from China and Japan to Australia and Fiji (Wallour 1960; Nair 1984; Cookson 1990; Huang 2001; US National Museum of Natural History 2015). This gribble is considered nonindigenous in New Zealand, and was first reported in 1964 (McGuire 1964, cited by Cookson 1990; Cranfield et al. 1998).


Description

Limnoria tripunctata is a gribble, a small, marine, wood-boring isopod. Limnoria tripunctata 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 4 segments.The left mandible incisor lacks teeth, instead forming a projecting rasp-and-file device. 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 three symmetrically arranged tubercles anteriorly. The lateral and posterior edges are lined with tubercules. Adults are up to 3.4 mm long, white to pink when alive, and yellow when preserved in alcohol. Description based on information from: Menzies 1957; Cookson 1990; Brusca et al. 2007; and Castelló 2011.


Taxonomy

Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Arthropoda
Subphylum:   Crustacea
Class:   Malacostraca
Subclass:   Eumalacostraca
Superorder:   Peracarida
Order:   Isopoda
Suborder:   Flabellifera
Family:   Limnoriidae
Genus:   Limnoria
Species:   tripunctata

Synonyms

Limnoria lignorum (Richardson, 1889)
Limnoria terebrans (Leach, 1841)
Limnoria tuberculata (Sowinsky, 1884)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Limnoria lignorum
Limnoria lignorum has a circumboreal distribution in the northern Atlantic and Pacific, and is presumed to be native throughout this range (Menzies 1957).

Limnoria pfeiferri
None

Limnoria quadripunctata
Limnoria quadripunctata is probably native to the South Pacific, and has been introduced to Europe, the Azores, Bermuda, the West Coast, and South Africa (Menzies 1957; Wallour 1960; Jones 1963; Mead et al. 2011b).

Limnoria tuberculata
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.

Ecology

General:

Limnoria tripunctata has separate sexes, and copulation is internal. Typically, in Limnoria spp., a single pair occupies a boring tunnel, with the female closer to the opening. Brood sizes of L. tripunctata range from 5 to 15 eggs per female. The young are brooded by the female (Becker 1971). 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).

Limnoria tripunctata inhabits warm-temperate to tropical climates and marine salinities. It tolerates winter temperatures as low as 2C (Menzies 1957) and experimental temperatures as high as 30C (Beckman and Menzies 1960). Reproduction occurs at 15-30C, but development was optimum at 25C (Beckman and Menzies 1960). In experiments, this gribble had good survival at salinities of 36-50 PSU, but poor survival (15-50%) at 18 and 24 PSU (Eltringham 1961; Lum 1981). In Southampton Water, England, migration began in June at about 18C (Eltringham and Hockley 1963). Limnoria tripunctata digests non-cellulosic carbohydrates in wood, together with some cellulose, and excretes lignin in pellets – all 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 tripunctata, and so can be regarded as an ectoparasite (Delgery et al. 2006).

Food:

Wood and associated microbiota

Trophic Status:

Herbivore

Herb

Habitats

General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatMarinas & DocksNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
General HabitatVessel HullNone
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Life History


Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)2Field data (Menzies 1957)
Maximum Temperature (ºC)30(Beckman and Menzies 1960)
Minimum Salinity (‰)19Experimental data (Lum 1981).
Maximum Salinity (‰)50Experimental data (Lum 1981).
Minimum Reproductive Temperature15Experimental data (Beckman and Menzies 1960)
Maximum Reproductive Temperature30Highest tested (Beckman and Menzies 1960)
Minimum Length (mm)2Minimum adult size (Menzies 1957; Cookson 1990)
Maximum Length (mm)4Minimum adult size (Menzies 1957; Cookson 1990)
Broad Temperature RangeNoneCold temperate-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Limnoria tripunctata, a gribble (wood-boring isopod) is a major wood-borer, damaging 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 much below 20 PSU (Becker 1971; Lum 1971). Damage to pilings by L. tripunctata has been reported from Boca Grande, Florida (Atwood 1922), Los Angeles (Quayle 1992), San Francisco Bay (Carlton 1979; Cohen and Carlton 1995), British Columbia (Quayle 1992), and England (Jones 1963). Replacement and treatment of pilings, and the effects of toxic compounds, such as creosote and other wood treatments, add to the impacts of Limnoria (Becker 1971).


Regional Impacts

NEA-IINoneEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
In Swansea, Wales and Southhampton Water, England, heated discharges of 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 wooden test blocks (Coughlan 1977).
P090San Francisco BayEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
Damage to pilings in Oakland estuary, San Francisco Bay, probably due to this isopod, was first noted in 1873 (Merritt 1875, cited by Carlton 1979).
NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
Damage to pilings in Oakland estuary, San Francisco Bay, probably due to this isopod, was first noted in 1873 (Merritt 1875, cited by Carlton 1979).
P050San Pedro BayEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
'In Los Angeles, California, this species can reduce the life of a creosote treated piling to about 6 years instead of a possible 40 years in northern waters (Beckman et al. 1957).' (Quayle 1992).
NEP-IIIAlaskan panhandle to N. of Puget SoundEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
Limnoria spp. were a major source of damage to pilings in British Columbia, but this damage was greatly reduced by coating pilings with creosote (Quayle 1992).
G050Charlotte HarborEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
Atwood 1922, photo of damaged piling
NEP-VIPt. Conception to Southern Baja CaliforniaEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
'In Los Angeles, California, this species can reduce the life of a creosote treated piling to about 6 years instead of a possible 40 years in northern waters (Beckman et al. 1957).'
NEA-VNoneEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
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
NA-ET3 Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras 1948 Crypto Estab
CAR-VII Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida 1948 Crypto Estab
NA-ET4 Bermuda 1948 Crypto Estab
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 1948 Crypto Estab
NA-ET2 Bay of Fundy to Cape Cod 1948 Crypto Estab
CAR-II None 1949 Crypto Estab
CAR-III None 1949 Crypto Estab
SP-XXI None 1922 Def Estab
CAR-IV None 1950 Crypto Estab
NEP-V Northern California to Mid Channel Islands 1875 Def Estab
MED-IX None 1884 Crypto Estab
NEP-VI Pt. Conception to Southern Baja California 1871 Def Estab
NEP-VIII None 1954 Def Estab
NEP-IV Puget Sound to Northern California 1964 Def Estab
NEP-III Alaskan panhandle to N. of Puget Sound 1961 Def Estab
EAS-III None 0 Crypto Estab
SP-XII None 1960 Crypto Estab
NWP-3a None 1960 Crypto Estab
NWP-4a None 0 Crypto Estab
NWP-3b None 0 Crypto Estab
NWP-2 None 0 Crypto Estab
CIO-II None 0 Crypto Estab
SA-II None 1903 Crypto Estab
NEA-V None 0 Crypto Estab
NEA-II None 1958 Def Estab
AUS-VIII None 0 Crypto Estab
MED-VII None 1957 Crypto Estab
MED-II None 1958 Crypto Estab
MED-VI None 0 Crypto Estab
EA-III None 0 Crypto Estab
NZ-IV None 1964 Def Estab
MED-V None 0 Crypto Estab
MED-III None 1957 Crypto Estab
WA-II None 0 Crypto Estab
SP-I None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-VII None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-VI None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-V None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-III None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-IV None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-XII None 0 Crypto Estab
SA-I None 0 Crypto Estab
SEP-H None 1960 Def Estab
EA-IV None 0 Crypto Estab
SP-VII None 1951 Crypto Estab
NEP-VII None 1954 Def Estab
M040 Long Island Sound 1948 Crypto Estab
S180 St. Johns River 1948 Crypto Estab
M130 Chesapeake Bay 1967 Crypto Estab
G310 Corpus Christi Bay 1948 Crypto Estab
G260 Galveston Bay 1948 Crypto Estab
S190 Indian River 1957 Crypto Estab
M010 Buzzards Bay 1947 Crypto Estab
P020 San Diego Bay 1876 Def Estab
P050 San Pedro Bay 1871 Def Estab
P170 Coos Bay 1983 Def Estab
P030 Mission Bay 1948 Def Estab
P022 _CDA_P022 (San Diego) 1949 Def Estab
P040 Newport Bay 1947 Def Estab
P058 _CDA_P058 (San Pedro Channel Islands) 1950 Def Estab
P060 Santa Monica Bay 1969 Def Estab
P062 _CDA_P062 (Calleguas) 1950 Def Estab
P090 San Francisco Bay 1875 Def Estab
P210 Yaquina Bay 1964 Def Estab
P270 Willapa Bay 1964 Def Estab
N170 Massachusetts Bay 1948 Crypto Estab
P290 Puget Sound 1998 Def Estab
N180 Cape Cod Bay 1973 Crypto Estab
M060 Hudson River/Raritan Bay 1950 Crypto Estab
S050 Cape Fear River 1948 Crypto Estab
S080 Charleston Harbor 1967 Crypto Estab
S120 Savannah River 1967 Crypto Estab
G110 St. Andrew Bay 1949 Crypto Estab
S200 Biscayne Bay 1950 Crypto Estab
S206 _CDA_S206 (Vero Beach) 1948 Crypto Estab
G170 West Mississippi Sound 1998 Crypto Estab
G268 _CDA_G268 (Austin-Oyster) 1960 Crypto Estab
AUS-X None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-XI None 0 Crypto Estab
P093 _CDA_P093 (San Pablo Bay) 1875 Def Estab
G050 Charlotte Harbor 1922 Crypto Estab
RS-3 None 2005 Crypto Estab
WA-IV None 2008 Def Estab
N190 Waquoit Bay 1957 Crypto Estab
P027 _CDA_P027 (Aliso-San Onofre) 2011 Def Unk
NEA-VI None 2002 Crypto Estab
NEA-IV None 1972 Crypto Estab
PAN_PAC Panama Pacific Coast 1960 Def Estab
PAN_CAR Panama Caribbean Coast 1949 Crypto Estab
WA-V None 1964 Def Estab
SEP-Z None 1966 Def Estab
SEP-I None 1984 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude

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