Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 11, pp 2617–2622 | Cite as

Geographical expansion of the invader Caprella scaura (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) to the East Atlantic coast

  • J. M. Guerra-GarcíaEmail author
  • M. Ros
  • A. Dugo-Cota
  • V. Burgos
  • A. M. Flores-León
  • E. Baeza-Rojano
  • M. P. Cabezas
  • J. Núñez
Short Communication


Caprella scaura (Templeton in Trans Entomol Soc Lond 1:185–198, 1836) is a native species to the western Indian Ocean. It was first described from Mauritius and later reported from several regions of the world. During the last decade, the species spread out of the Adriatic Sea, and in 2005, C. scaura was reported in Gerona, on the north-eastern coast of Spain. The present study shows the recent rapid expansion of the species to the East Atlantic. During a sampling survey of harbours along the Strait of Gibraltar (Dec 2009–June 2010), we found high densities of C. scaura associated with the bryozoans Zoobotryon verticillatum Della Chiaje, 1822, in Chipiona and Bugula neritina (L.) in Cádiz, Atlantic coast of southern Spain; on the other hand, during May 2009, an important population of C. scaura was also found in the Canary Islands (Tenerife) associated with aquaculture resources. A total of 1,034 individuals of C. scaura were studied, and we confirm that the populations are effectively established, with high densities and reproducing females during the whole year. The population from Cádiz was characterised by smaller specimens but a higher number of eggs per female. These differences could be related to environmental conditions, mainly sea water temperature and to other factors such as competition with other species, or availability of food or substrate. Significant correlation was found between female size and number of eggs in the three populations, but egg size did not vary with female body length. The morphometric relation length/width of the second gnathopod was also calculated and compared between sexes: larger males presented longer gnathopods at the three sites. The most probable introduction vector of this species is shipping; in fact, the Strait of Gibraltar is characterised by an intense shipping traffic. Also, we have observed that the native Caprella equilibra Say, 1818, is being displaced by C. scaura in the harbour of Cádiz, where this species reach densities of 35,945 ind/1,000 g of B. neritina. Further experimental studies are necessary to explore the potential danger of this species, which might spread into natural habitats too.


Canary Island Ballast Water Western Indian Ocean Fouling Community Florida Gulf Coast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support of this work was provided by the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (Project CGL2007-60044/BOS) co-financed by FEDER funds and by the Consejería de Innovación, Ciencia y Empresa, Junta de Andalucía (Project P07-RNM-02524). Special thanks to Juana Rosa Cejas Pulido, Departamento de Cultivos Marinos del IEO, Tenerife, who alerted us of the presence of C. scaura in her aquaculture resources. David James Harris conducted the English revision of the text. We are also grateful to two anonymous referees for valuable comments to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Guerra-García
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Ros
    • 1
  • A. Dugo-Cota
    • 1
  • V. Burgos
    • 1
  • A. M. Flores-León
    • 1
  • E. Baeza-Rojano
    • 1
  • M. P. Cabezas
    • 1
  • J. Núñez
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Biología Marina, Departamento de Fisiología y Zoología, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de SevillaSevilleSpain
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Bentos, Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de la LagunaLa Laguna, Tenerife, Canary IslandsSpain

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