Abstract

India is endowed with a wide range of ecosystems, of which oceanic island ecosystems viz. Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep are unique and ecologically fragile because of the high degree of endemism in species composition. Altogether 25 species under different faunal groups such as cnidarians, polychaetes, cirripedes, mollusks, and ascidians are reported as invasive species in Indian islands, of which 24 species are found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while 4 species are available in Lakshadweep. Ship-mediated invasions, especially ballast water discharge and ship-hull fouling, are the major source of invasions as these islands are located in the vicinity of the international sea route. In the present paper, we have represented these non-native species of fauna and flora to discriminate and identify them as non-native or invasive. This study deals with the diversity and distribution of aquatic invasive species in islands and their detrimental impact on the island ecosystem.

Introduction

In recent times, the natural and native populations of biological communities are under widespread threat due to the presence of non-native or non-indigenous, or exotic species. Non-indigenous species becomes invasive species when it threatens the diversity or abundance of native species or the ecological stability of infested waters or commercial, agricultural, aqua-cultural, or recreational activities dependent on such waters (NOAA, 1999). Invasive alien species are any biological organisms with the ability to cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2000) - “an invasive alien species (IAS) is a species that is established outside its natural past or present distribution, whose introduction and/or spread threaten biological diversity”. In particular, they impact adversely upon biodiversity, including decline or elimination of native species through competition, predation, or transmission of pathogens and the disruption of local ecosystems and ecosystem functions (Dudgeon et al., 2006; Strayer, 2010; Bellard et al., 2016; Maxwell et al., 2016; Magliozzi et al., 2020). Invasive alien species, introduced and/or spread outside their natural habitats, have adversely affected native biodiversity in almost every ecosystem type on earth and are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. Since the 17th century, invasive alien species leads to nearly 40% of all animal extinctions for which the cause is known (CBD, 2006). Rapid development with successful reproduction, extraordinary spreading aptitude, phenotypic plasticity, tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions, ability to live off of a wide range of food types, etc, are considered as the major characteristic features of the invasive alien species which compete with the native species for resources partitioning such as nutrients, light, physical space, water, or food. The process of competition or predation may allow the invader to proliferate quickly in a non-native place of those invasive species as bio-invasion with greater risk for the native species population as well the entire ecosystem (Shenkar and Swalla, 2011; Corrales et al., 2019). It threatens the biodiversity, ecological services, economy, and livelihood of the developing nations and generates higher risk for the native species towards extinction or shift (Bax et al., 2003; Pejchar and Mooney, 2009; Vila` and Hulme, 2017; Corrales et al., 2019).

India has four biodiversity hotspots covering 3,287,263 km2 and is known as one of the mega-biodiverse countries of the world. Ten biogeographic zones have been categorized in India based on the wide spectrum of geographical, topological, environmental, ecological, etc. variations. A total of 1,382 off-shore islands are located in India while the major islands are the Andaman and Nicobar group of islands, separating the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea and Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea which shares 0.3% of the total geographical area. Due to the isolation, the island ecosystems are known as very fragile in terms of biodiversity, while they are also attributed with a greater range of endemic species or subspecies within a small range of restricted habitat, that defines them as vulnerable regionally. The worldwide spread of exotic or invasive alien species by means of anthropogenic or natural dispersal intentionally or unintentionally can be seen as the colossal threats for the species of the island ecosystem as they are with limited ranges of population structure and habitat preferences. The threats can be seen as fatal for the endemic species in more destructive ways with the risk of species extinction. Under this contemporary context, it is comprehensively imperative to carry out systematic studies on the invasive alien species from the island ecosystem to assess their impacts on the population of native species. This present paper discusses 25 exotic or invasive alien species under 7 groups such as one species of jellyfish (Class Scyphozoa, Family Cassiopeidae), one species of soft coral (Subclass Octocorallia, Family Clavulariidae), one species of hard coral (Subclass Hexacorallia, Family Dendrophylliidae), six species of polychaetes (Class Polychaeta), one species of cirriped (Class Hexanauplia, Family Balanidae), one species of bivalve (Class Bivalvia, Family Pholadidae) and 14 species of chordates (Class Ascidiacea) from the aquatic ecosystems of islands of India along with their native as well as previously known distributional details.

Methods

The studies were carried out in the island ecosystem of Andaman and Nicobar Islands encircled by fringing type coral reef and a single barrier reef in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea separated by Coco Channel and east Channel and another one is Lakshadweep, an atoll in the Arabian Sea. Samplings of the specimens were made by employing SCUBA diving up to the depth of 40 m, snorkelling was made for sampling in shallow reef regions while the inter-tidal survey was also made. Undersea digitization of live specimens was made by underwater cameras with marine packs. Collected samples were narcotized with magnesium chloride/ menthol or 4% neutralized formaldehyde followed by preservation in 80% ethyl alcohol for taxonomical studies while microscopic studies were carried out for species confirmation under LEICA M 205A stereo-zoom microscope. Standard literature was consulted to record and identify the exotic and alien species under respective groups (Rao, 1931; Menon, 1930, 1936; Bhatt and Bal, 1960; Kramp, 1961; Renganathan, 1981; Surya Rao and Subba Rao, 1991; Ramakrishna and Sarkar, 2003; Anil et al., 2003; Gaonkar et al., 2010; Padmakumar et al., 2011; Tamilselvi et al., 2011; Venkataraman et al., 2012; Raghunathan et al., 2013; Patro et al., 2015; Mondal et al., 2015; Jaffar Ali et al., 2015; Nandakumar, 2016; Prasade et al., 2016; Fofonoff et al., 2017).

Results

A total of 25 invasive alien species under 7 groups have been listed from aquatic ecosystems of islands of India where 24 aquatic species are from Andaman and Nicobar Islands and only four species are from Lakshadweep (Table 1 and Figure 1).

Table 1.

Summary of aquatic invasive Alien Species available in Indian islands.

Sl. No.GroupNumber of species reported
Andaman and Nicobar IslandsLakshadweep
A. Phylum Cnidaria 
 1.    Jellyfish  
 2.    Soft coral  
 3.    Hard coral 
B. Phylum Annelida 
 4.    Polychaete 
C. Phylum Arthropoda   
 5.    Cirripede  
D. Phylum Mollusca   
 6.    Bivalve 
E. Phylum Chordata   
 7.    Ascidia 14  
 Total 24 4 
Sl. No.GroupNumber of species reported
Andaman and Nicobar IslandsLakshadweep
A. Phylum Cnidaria 
 1.    Jellyfish  
 2.    Soft coral  
 3.    Hard coral 
B. Phylum Annelida 
 4.    Polychaete 
C. Phylum Arthropoda   
 5.    Cirripede  
D. Phylum Mollusca   
 6.    Bivalve 
E. Phylum Chordata   
 7.    Ascidia 14  
 Total 24 4 
Figure 1.

Invasive alien species of aquatic habitats of islands of India.

Figure 1.

Invasive alien species of aquatic habitats of islands of India.

The details on taxonomic group, common names, native range of distribution of different species available in different groups, invasion in different islands and remarks are briefly summarized here.

JELLYFISH

Phylum CNIDARIA

Class SCYPHOZOA

Order SEMAEOSTOMEAE

Family CASSIOPEIDAE

1.Cassiopea andromeda(Forsskal, 1775)

Common Name: Upside-down Jellyfish.

Nativity / Range: Indo west Pacific.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: East and West coast of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Rao, 1931; Menon, 1930 and 1936; Kramp, 1961; Ramakrishna and Sarkar, 2003; Venkataraman et al., 2012; Prasade et al., 2016.

Remarks: Invasive worldwide; transferred through Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, Levantine Sea; no poisonous effect.

SOFT CORAL

Phylum CNIDARIA

Class ANTHOZOA Ehrenberg, 1834

Subclass OCTOCORALLIA Haeckel, 1866

Family CLAVULARIIDAE Hickson, 1894

2.Carijoa riisei(Duchassaing and Michelotti 1860)

Common Name: Snowflake Coral.

Nativity / Range: Western Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina to Brazil.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Kachchh, Gulf of Mannar, Thiruvanathapuram, Kanyakumari and Goa.

References: Dhivya et al., 2012; Raghunathan et al., 2013; Padmakumar et al., 2011; Patro et al., 2015; Nandakumar, 2016.

HARD CORAL

Phylum CNIDARIA

Class ANTHOZOA Ehrenberg, 1834

Subclass HEXACORALLIA Haeckel, 1896

Order SCLERACTINIA

Family DENDROPHYLLIIDAE Gray, 1847

3.Tubastrea coccineaLesson, 1829

Common Name: Orange Cup Coral.

Nativity / Range: Brazil, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Guinea and Gulf of Mexico.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kachchh and Lakshadweep.

References: Venkataraman, 2006; Caerio,1999; Pillai and Patel, 1988.

POLYCHAETE

Phylum ANNELIDA

Class POLYCHAETA

Order PHYLLODOCIDA

Family GLYCERIDAE Grube, 1850

4.Glycera longipinnisGrube, 1878

Nativity / Range: Philippines.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Mumbai, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Gaonkar et al., 2010.

Family NEREIDIDAE Blainville, 1818

5.Neanthes cricognatha(Ehlers, 1904)

Nativity / Range: New Zealand.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Mumbai, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Gaonkar et al., 2010.

6.Perinereis nuntia(Lamarck, 1818)

Nativity / Range: Gulf of Suez.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Mumbai, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.

References: Gaonkar et al., 2010.

Order TEREBELLIDA

Family CIRRATULIDAE Carus, 1863

7.Protocirrineris chrysoderma(Claparede, 1868)

Nativity / Range: Unknown

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Mumbai and Lakshadweep.

References: Gaonkar et al., 2010.

Order SPIONIDA

Family SPIONIDAE Grube, 1850

8.Scolelepis squamata(Muller, 1806)

Nativity / Range: Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Mumbai, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Gaonkar et al., 2010.

9.Malacoceros indicus(Fauvel, 1928)

Nativity / Range: Australia.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Mumbai, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Gaonkar et al., 2010.

CIRRIPEDE

Phylum ARTHROPODA

Class HEXANAUPLIA

Infraclass CIRRIPEDIA

Order SESSILIA

Family BALANIDAE Leach, 1806

10.Amphibalanus amphitrite(Darwin, 1854)

Nativity / Range: The West Pacific and Indian Oceans from Southeastern Africa to Southern China.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Mumbai, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Bhatt and Bal, 1960; Anil et al., 2003; Fofonoff et al., 2017.

Remarks: Invaded to the Eastern Pacific (Panama-California), Northwestern Pacific (Korea-Japan-Russia), Southwestern Pacific (including New Zealand and Southern Australia), (Hawaii Islands, Western Atlantic (Caribbean-Long Island Sound), and Northeastern Atlantic (Germany-England-France).

BIVALVE

Phylum MOLLUSCA

Class BIVALVIA

Order MYDIA

Family PHOLADIDAE Lamarck, 1809

11.Martesia striata(Linnaeus, 1758)

Common Name: Striated wood paddock.

Nativity / Range: Native range is unknown.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: East and West coast of India, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Nair and Dharmaraj 1983; Surya Rao and Subba Rao, 1991; Ravinesh and Biju Kumar, 2015.

Remarks: Wood—boring; Worldwide distribution; occurs naturally in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans; invasive to England, Ireland, Pearl Harbour, Hawaii; dispersed passively or by ship or by drift wood

ASCIDIANS

Phylum CHORDATA

Class ASCIDIACEA

Family ASCIDIDAE

12.Ascidia sydneiensisStimpson,1855

Nativity / Range: Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, Sub Antarctic region and East South America.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

13.Ascidia gemmataSluiter 1895

Nativity / Range: Indo-West Pacific.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

14.Phallusia nigraSavigny, 1816

Nativity / Range: Panama, USA, Indo-Pacific, Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011; Mondal et al., 2015.

15.Phallusia arabicaSavigny, 1816

Nativity / Range: Indo West Pacific and North east Atlantic.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

Family PYURIDAE

16.Herdmania pallidaSavigny, 1816

Nativity / Range: Atlantic Ocean, Indo-West Pacific and the Mediterranean: Sub Antarctic region.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

17.Microcosmus curvusTokioka, 1954

Nativity / Range: Pacific Ocean.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

18.Herdmania momus(Savigny, 1816)

Nativity / Range: Mediterranean Sea. North Atlantic Ocean, Federal Republic of Somalia and Mozambique.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: South western coast of India, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Jaffar Ali et al., 2015.

Order STOLIDOBRANCHIA

Family STYELIDAE Sluiter, 1895

19.Styela canopus(Savigny, 1816)

Nativity / Range: Indo Pacific, Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean: South and South east America.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011; Renganathan, 1981.

20.Symplegma virideHerdman, 1886

Nativity / Range: Atlantic Ocean, Indo West Pacific and the Mediterranean: Sub Antarctic East South America.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

Family DIDEMNIDAE

21.Didemnum psammatodes(Sluiter, 1895)

Nativity / Range: Indo-West Pacific and Eastern Atlantic; Subantarctic region, Malaya and West Africa.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

22.Didemnum candidumSavigny, 1816

Nativity / Range: North Pacific Ocean.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: South eastern coast of India— Tamil Nadu, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Jaffer Ali et al., 2009.

23.Lissoclinum fragile(Van Name, 1902)

Nativity / Range: Indo-Pacific and Western central Atlantic.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

24.Trididemnum savignii(Herdman, 1886)

Nativity / Range: Indo-Pacific and Western Central Atlantic.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

Family POLYCITORIDAE

25.Aplidium multiplicatumSluiter, 1909

Nativity / Range: Indo-West Pacific.

Introduction/ Distribution in India: Tuticorin port- Gulf of Mannar, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

References: Tamilselvi et al., 2011.

Discussion and conclusions

We have documented the presence of 25 aquatic species in the fragile and sensitive ecosystem on islands in India. This study has thoroughly documented the presence of alien invasive aquatic species in the Island ecosystems of India that have been scantly reported earlier. Venkataraman et al. (2012) reported the presence of Cassiopea andromeda (Forsskal, 1775) from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Studies on the invasive soft coral i.e. Carijoa riisei from Andaman and Nicobar Islands were carried out by Divya et al. (2012) and Raghunathan et al. (2013) earlier. Tubastrea coccinea Lesson, 1830 is now strongly considered as one of the invasive species of hard coral which is earlier reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Venkataraman (2006) while in Lakshadweep it was reported by Caerio (1999). Further, Mondal et al. (2018) studied the distribution of Tubastrea coccinea Lesson, 1830 which is again an invasive species in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Renganathan (1981), Jaffar Ali et al. (2010, 2015), and Jaffar Ali and Tamilselvi (2016) identified some species of ascidians that are exotic and have now invaded the peninsular coast of India. The presence of these invasive ascidians has been further reported by Mondal et al. (2015, 2017) and Mondal (2018) and has now been reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The natural distribution of these aquatic invasive species have been reported from the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean, South Carolina, Brazil, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Guinea, Gulf of Mexico, Sub Antarctic region, East South America, Mediterranean, Malaya and West Africa, North Pacific Ocean, and Indo west Pacific regions. However, in Indian waters more specifically from the islands their introduction has been ascertained by fouling ballast waters. A thorough analysis of these 25 aquatic invasive alien species showed their distributional ranges further, mostly in port areas of Mumbai, Tuticorin port, and other coastal areas of peninsular India. None of these species are restricted to either Andaman and Nicobar Islands or Lakshadweep only. It is most likely that the shipping between the mainland and islands is the possible vector for the spread of these aquatic invasive species. At this juncture, it is very important to carry out a regular assessment on the impacts of these aquatic non-native invasive species along with long term monitoring program to conserve the island biodiversity especially the endemic species.

Aquatic invasive species have been reported to cause a considerable negative impact on the entire biodiversity across the globe which can be seen as the depletion of population of native species, damages in the population demography followed by alteration of ecological and environmental attributes (Charles and Dukes, 2007; Pejchar and Mooney, 2009). The impact or damages are extensively high during the present time, which promoted the ideology to study the invasive alien species and their impacts on the ecosystem globally. As the impacts are seriously and proportionally related to the food security, human health, trade, and economic development of the recipient country, the focus on the exotic or invasive alien species has taken a greater concern to work on (Drake et al., 1989; Parker et al., 1999; Mooney, 2005; Charles and Dukes, 2007; Pejchar and Mooney, 2009). The recent database of the global invasive species indicates altogether 1517 species are triggering widespread damages across the world. It was also found that among those species, the intentional introduction was recorded for 39% of species followed by, unintentionally introduced of 26% both intentional and unintentional as well 20% while there is no precise data for 13% species from unknown sources (Turbelin et al., 2017).

Spreading of invasive species beyond their natural barrier or zones can be classified mostly as intentional or unintentional while some can and be due to natural processes. The worldwide shipping movement through the oceans and seas is emerging as the major carrier of aquatic invasive species from their native range to any other place while oceanic currents have also played a notable role in the same activity. The impacts of the exotic or invasive alien species have been largely very high on the native species due to the seaways activity as reported by several workers (Lambert, 2002; Lambert and Lambert, 2003; Tamilselvi et al., 2011). The spread, successful establishment, and propagation of alien invasive species are increasing along with globalization and increasing massive threats on the biodiversity of the world (Sharma et al, 2016). Invasive Alien Species (IAS) not only endorse greater scale of damages in species diversity, richness, composition, and abundance of native species but it also initiates predation and competition with the native species along with the transmission of pathogen and parasite which are making devastating impacts on the entire ecosystem by means of disintegration, demolition, shift or complete replacement of environments and tropic structure as well (McNeely et al., 2001).

It is a matter of great concern that aquatic species introduced to non-native habitats have established and proliferated successfully. Some exotic or non-indigenous species have been latent threats to entire island ecosystems in India due to their hostile effect on the native species population by changing the species organization and destroying ecological features in terms of space, dispersion ability, sustainability, phenotypic difference, feeding preferences, and reproduction. These impacts have caused negative effects on food safety, human health, trade as well as economic development of island areas. It is important to protect the endemic aquatic biodiversity and the island ecosystem earnestly because of emerging threats and increasing invasions in the Indian island ecosystem. Some mitigation measures such as firm acquiescence of IMO norms for ballast water disposal, regular studies, monitoring and impact assessment on the exotic species, quantitative assessment on the biology and ecological process of exotic or invasive species along with their impacts on native species, monitoring on the larval characterization and their survival capacity and dispersal mode, identification of fouling organisms from native as well as exotic ranges, etc. are required to safeguard the native species along with their natural habitat against the proactive pressure of IAS spread.

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