Population genetic analyses are consistent with the introduction of Ceramium secundatum (Ceramiaceae, Rhodophyta) to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, USA

Ecol Evol. 2015 Oct 19;5(21):5088-95. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1754. eCollection 2015 Nov.


During ongoing DNA barcode (COI-5P) surveys of the macroalgal flora along the northwest Atlantic coast, we discovered a population of Ceramium secundatum in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, USA. This species is regarded as common and widespread in the northeast Atlantic, ranging from Norway to Morocco, but until now has not been reported from the western Atlantic. Several lines of evidence suggest that C. secundatum may be introduced to Narragansett Bay: (1) despite extensive collecting, specimens have only been obtained from a limited geographic range in the northwest Atlantic; (2) three other nonindigenous seaweed species are reportedly introduced in this region, which is thought to be a consequence of shipping; and (3) this species is introduced to South Africa and New Zealand. To investigate this suspected introduction, we applied population genetic analyses (using the cox2-3 spacer) to compare the Narragansett Bay C. secundatum population to native populations in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Collectively, analyses of biogeographical and molecular data indicate that C. secundatum is likely introduced to Narragansett Bay. The implications of this discovery are discussed.

Keywords: Ceramium; DNA barcoding; cox2‐3 spacer; introduced species.