The invasive sun coral Tubastraea coccinea hosting a native Christmas tree worm at Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean

Interspecific relationships of invasive species hosting a native associated species are noteworthy, particularly if the invasive does not have a similar relationship in its native range. The azooxanthellate Indo-Pacific coral Tubastraea coccinea (Dendrophylliidae) has become a widespread invasive in the tropical western Atlantic, where it was probably introduced as a fouling organism in the 1930s. During recent coral reef surveys this invader has been observed as host for a native tube worm, Spirobranchus giganteus (Serpulidae), at Curaçao, where this association was most commonly found on a shipwreck. Although Spirobranchus species are known to live in association with various shallow-water corals in the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific, none of them has been recorded as an associate of a dendrophylliid or of an azooxanthellate coral before. This new association may be possible because of the generalist host selection of S. giganteus, which could have been facilitated by the availability of shipwrecks and other man-made substrates.


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