New Record of the Non-Native Ophiothela mirabilis (Verill 1867) in St. Kitts, West Indies
Received Date: March 10, 2020; Published Date: April 29, 2020
We describe the presence of the non-native Pacific ophiuroid species Ophiothela mirabilis on the island of St. Kitts, federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Individuals were found in various states of asexual reproduction on common Caribbean sea fans (Gorgonia ventalina) at two locations. Definitive identification was based on morphological features and sequencing of the 18s ribosomal RNA gene. The mitochondrial CO1 gene was also sequenced to assist in future Atlantic population studies of this invasive species. The coloration of the individuals as well as their current distribution suggest they are of a single lineage connected to the initial Brazilian invasion site, possibly vectored by shipping. Histological examination of G. ventalina tissue colonized by O. mirabilis found no changes to indicate direct parasite-induced damage to the host. Further study is needed to understand rate and route of invasion and the impact on its host species.
Keywords: Ecology; Gorgonian; Invasive species; Larval dispersal; Ophiuroid