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Determinants of Tubastraea coccinea invasion and likelihood of further expansion in the northern Gulf of Mexico
Derouen, Z.C.; Peterson, M.R.; Wang, H.-H.; Grant, W.E. (2020). Determinants of Tubastraea coccinea invasion and likelihood of further expansion in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Mar. Biodiv. 50(6): 101. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12526-020-01126-z
In: Marine Biodiversity. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 1867-1616; e-ISSN 1867-1624, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Tubastraea coccinea Lesson, 1830 [WoRMS]
    Marine/Coastal

Authors  Top 
  • Derouen, Z.C.
  • Peterson, M.R.
  • Wang, H.-H.
  • Grant, W.E.

Abstract
    Invasive species have large economic and ecological impacts and are the leading driver of extinction for both plants and animals worldwide. In the USA, coral reefs, which provide $3.4 billion per year in ecosystem services, are impacted by invasive marine species. One such species is Tubastraea coccinea, which was the first scleractinia to invade the western Atlantic and recently has spread to natural reefs within the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM). We document this recent invasion by compiling occurrence records, develop a species distribution model identifying important determinants of invasion, and project potential range expansion. Our results indicate T. coccinea currently is distributed along the GoM coast from the Florida Keys to southern Texas, with documented localities clustered ≈ 100 km off the Louisiana coast and ≈ 200 km off the Texas coast, and sparsely distributed elsewhere. Our species distribution model identified five environmental factors that together contribute > 99% to the overall model. These factors include two surface variables (mean pH and mean calcite, contributing ≈ 40%) and three benthic variables (maximum current velocity, minimum iron, and minimum dissolved oxygen, contributing ≈ 60%). Our model suggests potential habitat for range expansion is distributed mainly within the western portion of the northern GoM, with the highest probabilities of occurrence (0.8 < P < 1.0) clustered along the Texas and Louisiana coasts between 88 and 97° W (near the border between states).

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