Hitchhiking northwards: on the presence of the invasive skeleton shrimp Caprella scaura in the UK

Martínez-Laiz, G.; Guerra-García, J. M.; Ros, M.; Fenwick, D.; Bishop, J. D.; Horton, T. ORCID:; Faasse, M. A.; Cabezas, M. P.. 2021 Hitchhiking northwards: on the presence of the invasive skeleton shrimp Caprella scaura in the UK. Marine Biodiversity, 51 (5).

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Early detection of invasive species becomes particularly challenging in the case of small-sized, neglected or taxonomically challenging taxa. The invasive skeleton shrimp, Caprella scaura Templeton, 1836, stands out as a primary example of this and is a successful widespread invader in Europe. This study presents its first record in the UK, confirming that the species is now expanding towards higher latitudes by means of commercial shipping and recreational boating. Molecular analysis indicates that the UK population bears the most widespread haplotype across the northern hemisphere and suggests a potential introduction pathway shared with populations from the Iberian Peninsula, the Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Japan and Eastern US. We propose an Indo-Pacific origin, via the Suez Canal, with Mediterranean and Iberian populations acting as stepping stones. Considering the continuous development of European coastlines, the high molecular connectivity of C. scaura with transoceanic donors and its wide environmental tolerance, a further spread is expected in this continent. Lessons learned from its invasion in Southern Europe suggest the potential for competitive exclusion of native taxa. We outline the importance of promoting taxonomic expertise and effective dissemination of records, in order to reduce misidentifications, unresolved cases and lags in the detection of alien species.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1867-1616
Date made live: 30 Jan 2023 14:57 +0 (UTC)

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