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Microcosmus squamiger
Image courtesy of Charles Griffiths and Marc Rius, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Microcosmus squamiger
Taxonomic Group: Tunicates


Microcosmus squamiger is a solitary tunicate with a purple, leathery and tough tunic. It is native to the coasts of Australia and has established introduced populations on the West Coast of the United States, Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic coast of Spain, the Canary Islands, and South Africa. It was likely spread as fouling on ship hulls and is found on both natural and artificial substrates in its introduced range. Its introduction in Bahia San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico resulted in economic damage to oyster culture racks, ropes, and shells through fouling beginning in 2002. In other areas, competition may be a problem, for example it now outnumbers Styela canopus, an earlier invader, in San Diego Bay and forms single-species patches at some locations, possibly crowding out other species in shallow water communities.

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Fofonoff PW, Ruiz GM, Steves B, Simkanin C, & Carlton JT. .
National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System.
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Marine Invasions Lab
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

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