A novel marine bioinvasion vector: Ichthyochory, live passage through fish

Tamar Guy-Haim, Orit Hyams-Kaphzan, Erez Yeruham, Ahuva Almogi-Labin, James T. Carlton

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Many species of Indo-Pacific holobenthic foraminifera have been introduced and successfully established sustainable populations in the Mediterranean Sea over the past few decades. However, known natural and anthropogenic vectors do not explain how these species were introduced long distances from their origin. We present evidence for a novel marine bioinvasion vector explaining this long-distance transport and introduction using both contemporary field and historical analyses. In 2015–2016, we found living specimens of 29 foraminiferal species in the fecal pellets of two Red Sea herbivorous rabbitfish—Siganus rivulatus and Siganus luridus in the Mediterranean. In our historical analysis, we found 34 foraminiferal species in preserved Red Sea rabbitfish specimens, dating between 1967 and 1975. In addition, we found congruent propagation patterns of the non-indigenous rabbitfish and foraminifera, lagging 4–11 yrs between discoveries, respectively. Predation of marine benthos by non-indigenous fish, followed by incomplete digestion and defecation of viable individuals, comprise the main introduction vector of these organisms into novel environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalLimnology And Oceanography Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Gil Rilov for the use of the research facilities in IOLR, Haifa, Dani Golani for access to fish specimens in the National History Collections of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dan Tchernov for the use of microsensors, Jacob Silverman, Jonathan Erez, Arik Diamant, Gil Rilov, Martin Wahl, Dor Edelist, Eyal Rahav and Yair Achituv for providing insights on the study and valuable comments on the manuscript, Chana Netzer-Cohen for aid in processing the adapted map, Michael Kitin and Raanan Bodzin for technical aid and for acquiring the SEM images. We would also like to thank Isabelle Côté and the anonymous reviewer for their highly constructive review of the manuscript. We dedicate this paper to the memory of Dr. Nechama Ben-Eliyahu (1935-2014), marine biologist, invertebrate zoologist, and a pioneer in Lessepsian migration research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author. Limnology and Oceanography Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.


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