Jumping Ship: A Stepping Stone Event Mediating Transfer of a Non-indigenous Species Via a Potentially Unsuitable Environment

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Abstract

The smooth shelled blue mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis Lmk (Bivalvia: Mollusca) arrived in Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawai'i on 22 June 1998 as a member of the fouling community of the USS Missouri, and mussel spawning activity was observed within 2 h of the vessel's arrival. Small mussels (<10 mm shell length, approximately 6 weeks post-metamorphosis) were collected on 30 September 1998 from a submarine ballast tank in Pearl Harbor, indicating that a successful recruitment event had taken place very soon after the first arrival of the species at this location. We suggest that even if M. galloprovincialis is not able to establish permanently within Pearl Harbor, the fact that it has been able to successfully spawn and recruit to another shipping vector within the Harbor indicates that a ‘stepping stone’ model of range expansion from temperate to temperate region via an intermediary subtropical environment is quite feasible for this species. Data from worldwide distributions of mussels of the family Mytilidae indicate that preferred habitats are eutrophic continental shelf regions, which suggests that successful establishment within Pearl Harbor is possible. However, oceanic coral-reef environments are not preferred habitat types, suggesting that M. galloprovincialis is not likely to become widely distributed in the Hawaiian Islands.

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