Arrival of an alien

Research findings presented at 13th International Polychaete Conference

Fiona Gower

Cawthron Institute Taxonomist Fiona Gower. Photo: Cawthron Institute.

Cawthron Institute Taxonomist Fiona Gower represented her team's research at a conference with a difference in early August. Fiona attended the 13th International Polychaete Conference on board The Queen Mary Ship, Long Beach, California, where she presented a poster, made in collaboration with NIWA New Zealand, about the arrival of an alien species of Polychaete in New Zealand.

Fiona writes that the new alien nereidid worm has progressively established itself in New Zealand waters since it was first detected in 2017.

"The distinctively papillated Leonnates genus (11 species) was recorded for the first time in New Zealand seas in June 2017. A single specimen, provisionally considered the Australian species L. stephensoni Rullier, was detected in Auckland Harbour. This individual was found among a well-studied worm fauna at an intertidal site that has been monitored for nearly 20 years. Since that first find the species has been detected elsewhere at some near-shore sites, both nearby and as far as 60km away in the Hauraki Gulf."

The poster, co-authored by Fiona Gower and Joseph Marlow from Cawthron, and Geoffrey Read and Barry Greenfield from NIWA, also presented molecular data on the new arrival, which the team hopes to compare to its known congeners from warmer waters.

Date posted: 2 September 2019

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