An Invasive Fish and the Time-Lagged Spread of Its Parasite across the Hawaiian Archipelago

Gaither, Michelle R.; Aeby, Greta; Vignon, Matthias; Meguro, Yu-ichiro; Rigby, Mark; Runyon, Christina; Toonen, Robert J.; Wood, Chelsea L.; Bowen, Brian W.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Efforts to limit the impact of invasive species are frustrated by the cryptogenic status of a large proportion of those species. Half a century ago, the state of Hawai'i introduced the Bluestripe Snapper, Lutjanus kasmira, to O'ahu for fisheries enhancement. Today, this species shares an intestinal nematode parasite, Spirocamallanus istiblenni, with native Hawaiian fishes, raising the possibility that the introduced fish carried a parasite that has since spread to naïve local hosts. Here, we employ a multidisciplinary approach, combining molecular, historical, and ecological data to confirm the alien status of S. istiblenni in Hawai'i. Using molecular sequence data we show that S. istiblenni from Hawai'i are genetically affiliated with source populations in French Polynesia, and not parasites at a geographically intermediate location in the Line Islands. S. istiblenni from Hawai'i are a genetic subset of the more diverse source populations, indicating a bottleneck at introduction. Ecological surveys indicate that the parasite has found suitable intermediate hosts in Hawai'i, which are required for the completion of its life cycle, and that the parasite is twice as prevalent in Hawaiian Bluestripe Snappers as in source populations. While the introduced snapper has spread across the entire 2600 km archipelago to Kure Atoll, the introduced parasite has spread only half that distance. However, the parasite faces no apparent impediments to invading the entire archipelago, with unknown implications for naïve indigenous Hawaiian fishes and the protected Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.


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