Invasive isopods in the Salish Sea

 Juvenile invasive isopod  Ianiropsis serricaudis  on alga. Scale bar 0.3mm. Photo by Eric Lazo-Wasem, from Hobbs, et al., 2015

Juvenile invasive isopod Ianiropsis serricaudis on alga. Scale bar 0.3mm. Photo by Eric Lazo-Wasem, from Hobbs, et al., 2015

A recent publication on the global introduction of the Asian isopod Ianiropsis serricaudis was a by-product of a study we funded to evaluate the impact of invasive tunicates in the Salish Sea (Cordell et al., 2012). The publication shows that this invasive isopod is well-established in communities of fouling organisms throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

While the actual ecological impact of this isopod in the Salish Sea (or in other areas where it has been introduced) is unknown, it is interesting that in multiple places, including Puget Sound, its presence is strongly associated with the introduced tunicate Didemnum vexillum or with other introduced ascidians including Botrylloides violates and Styela clava.

Sometimes, such as with this paper, science only reveals small pieces of the mosaic, but with continued work it ultimately helps us see and understand the larger picture, which hopefully will permit us to better design health coastal ecosystems!