Styela plicata (sea squirt) competes with other organisms, excluding them from the space it occupies. Its larvae are capable of invading occupied space and growing to a large size in a relatively short period of time, attached to other organisms. S. plicata then sloughs off because of its large size, often taking other marine organisms with it. This sloughing destabilises the marine community. The presence of this tunicate also inhibits the recruitment or growth of other larval species (Sutherland, 1978). S. plicata has also replaced native solitary tunicates Pyura haustor and Ascidia ceratodes (Fuller, 2007). S. plicata is a fouler of ships, boats, docks, power plants and shellfish ponds, attaching to hard substrates and remaining there until removed (NEMESIS, 2006). S. plicata is usually covered with non-ascidian epibionts, which can travel on the tunicate and add non-indigenous species to aquatic ecosystems (Lambert & Lambert, 1998). Wyatt et al (2005) claims that S. plicata acts as a vector for the invasive Bugula neritina in Australia.
Location Specific Impacts:
Interaction with other invasive species: Wyatt et al (2005) claims that Styela plicata acts as a vector for the invasive Bugula neritina in Australia.