Biogeography of Wood-Boring Crustaceans (Isopoda: Limnoriidae) Established in European Coastal Waters


Marine wood-borers of the Limnoriidae cause great destruction to wooden structures exposed in the marine environment. In this study we collated occurrence data obtained from field surveys, spanning over a period of 10 years, and from an extensive literature review. We aimed to determine which wood-boring limnoriid species are established in European coastal waters; to map their past and recent distribution in Europe in order to infer species range extension or contraction; to determine species environmental requirements using climatic envelopes. Of the six species of wood-boring Limnoria previously reported occurring in Europe, only Limnoria lignorum, L. quadripunctata and L. tripunctata are established in European coastal waters. L. carinata and L. tuberculata have uncertain established status, whereas L. borealis is not established in European waters. The species with the widest distribution in Europe is Limnoria lignorum, which is also the most tolerant species to a range of salinities. L. quadripunctata and L. tripunctata appear to be stenohaline. However, the present study shows that both L. quadripunctata and L. tripunctata are more widespread in Europe than previous reports suggested. Both species have been found occurring in Europe since they were described, and their increased distribution is probably the results of a range expansion. On the other hand L. lignorum appears to be retreating poleward with ocean warming. In certain areas (e.g. southern England, and southern Portugal), limnoriids appear to be very abundant and their activity is rivalling that of teredinids. Therefore, it is important to monitor the distribution and destructive activity of these organisms in Europe.
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