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Revealing polychaete invasion patterns: Identification, reproduction and potential risks of the Korean ragworm, Perinereis linea (Treadwell), in the Western Mediterranean

August 30, 2013

An established population of the polychaetous annelid Perinereis linea (Treadwell) is reported for the first time outside its native distribution range (NW Pacific). This exotic worm has reached the Western Mediterranean Mar Menor lagoon via importing live fishing-bait as it is commonly used by anglers in Mar Menor lagoon, an area largely used for recreational fishing. To avoid confusion with other related species, and because the scientific name has been in synonymy for many years, P. linea is redescribed and illustrated. We focus on the reproductive biology and ecology of P. linea to help to understand its introduction, naturalization and spread along this coastal lagoon. Comparison between the Mediterranean population with a native population from South Korea revealed that the species exhibits a great reproductive plasticity and adaptability, which depends on the environmental conditions. Perinereis lineacan reproduce after acquiring the epitokous form or prior to complete epitokal modification. In the Mar Menor lagoon population females release eggs asynchronically without completing epitokal modifications. However, under particular laboratory conditions females produce eggs synchronically and release them after complete epitokal transformations. Fertilization can occur internally in the female coelom, and females release zygotes and larvae through openings in their body walls; they are then incubated in gelatinous masses attached to the female parapodia. The sperm morphology is of the ent-aquasperm type. The eggs and larvae are attacked by symbiotic ciliate protozoa that feed on their yolk reserves. These foreign ciliates may act as carriers of disease in native beachworms and constitute an important risk for the ecosystem health. Finally, we provide recommendations on the prevention of the adverse effects that this exotic ragworm can cause in receiving ecosystems.

Arias A, Richter A, Anadón N, Glasby C J, in press., Revealing polychaete invasion patterns: Identification, reproduction and potential risks of the Korean ragworm, Perinereis linea (Treadwell), in the Western Mediterranean, 2013, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2013.08.017. Article.

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