Additional Participants

Other Collaborators or Contacts

James Coyer, Galice Hoarau, Jeanine Olsen and Wytze Stam of the University of Groningen
Clifford Cunningham of Duke University
April Blakeslee
Ladd Johnson of Laval University

Project Period

March 15, 2006-August 31, 2007

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



This research will apply new approaches and expertise to understanding the probable invasion of North American intertidal zones by the herbivorous snail Littorina littorea in the 1800s. The investigator developed the following hypothesis during her recent analyses of late 1700s to mid-1800s shipping records: Fucus serratus and Littorina littorea were co-introduced into North America from Britain via the dumping of intertidal rock ballast in ships arriving at Pictou Harbor during the massive emigration of nearly 40,000 Scots (and some Irish and English) in the late 1700s-mid-1800s. This hypothesis will be tested using innovative molecular techniques (i.e., assay of nuclear and mitochondrial loci with primers that have already been developed for population genetic and phylogeographic studies in both species). Snails and algae will be collected and screened from Pictou (Canada) and 3-4 of the best candidate sites from Britain, based on the frequency of arrivals of ships from different British ports near the time of the putative introductions. The investigator will attempt to determine whether genotypes have remained stable over time (mid-1800s compared to today) in Pictou with herbarium material of F. serratus from the 1800s. The broader impacts include: demonstrating that Pictou Harbor was an epicenter for marine invasions in the last century. This, in turn, should lead to discoveries of other co-introduced species and confirm and extend our theoretical understanding of the trajectory of marine invasions based on different life histories and dispersal strategies of the species (e.g., L. littorea produces larvae; F. serratus produces rapidly attaching zygotes). The proposed SGER should lead to a full, collaborative proposal to pursue the co-introduction and broader multi-species invasion questions within a year.

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