Our ability to track invasive species is complicated by the fact that many organisms superficially resemble each other, even though they may in fact be quite different from one another. This is particularly true of oysters, whose physical similarities are particularly problematic for identification. By using advanced genetic techniques, we can not only identify these ‘cryptic’ species, but can also draw conclusions regarding their distribution across the landscape, their role as invaders, and their interactions with the surrounding environment. In this study, 10 oyster species were identified on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Panama using unique genetic markers. Among them was the Eastern Oyster, which was found in the Panamanian Caribbean for the first time. In addition, a Rock Oyster native to the Pacific was also found to be widespread on the Caribbean side of the Panama canal, though it does not appear to be interbreeding with any other oyster species in the region. It is likely that Rock Oysters were introduced to the Caribbean by recreational or commercial fishing vessels, though it’s difficult to say when exactly this first occurred.
Katrina M. Pagenkopp Lohan, Kristina M. Hill-Spanik, Mark E. Torchin, Ellen E. Strong, Robert C. Fleischer, Gregory M. Ruiz (2015) Molecular phylogenetics reveals first record and invasion of Saccostrea species in the Caribbean,Marine Biology DOI 10.1007/s00227-015-2637-5
March 2015 | download pdf