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Assessment of the Distribution of Ripistes parasita (Annelida: Clitellata: Naididae) in the Eastern United States and Canada
Barbara J. Dinkins, David A. Etnier, and Wendell L. Pennington

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 16, Issue 3 (2017): 362–368

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Southeastern Naturalist B.J. Dinkins, D.A. Etnier, and W.L. Pennington 2017 Vol. 16, No. 3 362 2017 SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST 16(3):362–368 Assessment of the Distribution of Ripistes parasita (Annelida: Clitellata: Naididae) in the Eastern United States and Canada Barbara J. Dinkins1,*, David A. Etnier 2, and Wendell L. Pennington3 Abstract - The non-native oligochaete Ripistes parasita (Schmidt) (Annelida: Clitellata: Naididae) has previously been reported from the northeastern United States and Mississippi. The objective of this study was to provide information regarding the spread of the invasive oligochaete within the past 32 years. We examined benthic invertebrate data from various biomonitoring projects conducted in several eastern states. Results show a significant range extension for this species. Introduction Ripistes parasita (Schmidt) is a naidid oligochaete with a historical distribution across the Palearctic ecoregion (Chekanovskaya 1981, Jung 2012, Krodkiewska and Spyra 2015) and presently extending into North American waters. It is distinguished by a proboscis and very long capillary setae projecting anteriorly from the first 3 pairs of dorsal setal bundles. Belonging to a monotypic genus, it is found in a variety of habitats and has been collected on vegetation (Chekanovskaya 1981, Krodkiewska and Spyra 2015), in fast-moving water with boulder/cobble substrate as well as in sluggish water with sand and fine organic debris (Montz 1988). Ripistes parasita’s presence in North America was first reported in 1984 after it had been found on hardboard substrate samplers placed in rivers in New York (Simpson and Abele 1984) and in benthic invertebrate samples from Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan (Barton and Griffiths 1984, Grigorovich et al. 2003, Spencer and Hudson 2003). Later, it showed up in small rivers in northern Minnesota, Lake Michigan, and the Tombigbee River in Mississippi (Bingham and Miller 1989, Montz 1988, USGS 2016a). Up to now, R. parasita has not been reported elsewhere in North America (USGS 2016b). Methods New distributional records of R. parasita were obtained over several years while processing benthic macroinvertebrate samples collected as part of various biomonitoring projects from the eastern and central United States. Techniques used to collect samples varied according to habitat and project-specific protocols. In tailwater habitats, Surber, Hess, and non-quantitative multi-habitat kick nets were 1Dinkins Biological Consulting, LLC, Powell, TN 37849. 2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, 3Pennington and Associates, Cookeville, TN 38501. *Corresponding author - Manuscript Editor: Bronwyn Williams Southeastern Naturalist 363 B.J. Dinkins, D.A. Etnier, and W.L. Pennington 2017 Vol. 16, No. 3 employed. A petite Ponar was used in impounded waters. Samples from the Yadkin and Little Tennessee rivers were taken by divers operating an underwater suction device. All other samples were collected using multi-habitat kick nets. Samples discussed in this paper were collected by numerous third parties; thus, accurate microhabitat data is unknown. We compiled new Ripistes parasita records from these samples along with published records to determine the present distribution of the oligochaete. Selected specimens used in this study were deposited in the Non-Molluscan Invertebrate Collection at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Catalog numbers NCSM 27088 and 27089) Results Figure 1 illustrates the locations of new and historical records of R. parasita in North America. The water bodies and USGS hydrographic drainage basins in which the oligochaete has been found are presented in Table 1. These records show the species has invaded many of the major drainage basins of the eastern United States. New records were found in Ontario, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. The oligochaete was present in small streams to large rivers but appears to be especially common in reservoirs or reservoir tailwaters. Discussion Ballast water has been blamed for the dispersal of this species (Minnesota Sea Grant 2014), however Montz (1988) speculated that the invasion mechanism was not primarily international shipping but likely a facultative organism upon which R. parasita attaches. Personal watercraft may also be a vector for dispersal. In Saganaga Lake, ON, Canada, R. parasita was found colonizing a fiberglass boat that had been placed in the lake simultaneously with and in close proximity to an aluminum boat (D.A. Etnier, pers. observ.). Both boats were placed in the water from mid-June to early September of 2014. By the end of this period, R. parasita had colonized the entire wetted surface of the fiberglass boat in evenly distributed hyaline tubes, but was absent on the hull of the aluminum boat. If R. parasita can survive dry conditions in transit, this ability to attach to boat hulls may facilitate its dispersal into new water bodies of the eastern United States and beyond. It has been reported that R. parasita can survive when its environment has dried up, but the mechanism was not known (Krodkiewska and Spyra 2015). Some Naididae form a cocoon resistant to desiccation (Loden 1981); however, in a study pond in southern Poland, no cocoons were found in samples of R. parasita just before the pond dried up (Krodkiewska and Spyra 2015). The resistance of the tubed adults or the cocoons to desiccation has not been studied. The absence of R. parasita on the adjacent aluminum hull in Saganaga Lake suggests there is a preference for different hull materials and this preference could affect its dispersal. Over the course of the summer the two boats may have been used in different manners, but it could be worth investigating whether juvenile R. parasita avoid or are harmed by aluminum, and/or if they prefer fiberglass. Southeastern Naturalist B.J. Dinkins, D.A. Etnier, and W.L. Pennington 2017 Vol. 16, No. 3 364 Aluminum is toxic to some aquatic organisms, especially at pH values between 5.0 and 6.0 (Sullivan 2000). Biofouling on marine ships is combated by regularly applying copper antifouling biocides (Pelletier et al. 2009, Piola et al. 2009). Do aluminum hulls discourage settlement of some freshwater invertebrates? Figure 1. Distribution of Ripistes parasita in North America. Southeastern Naturalist 365 B.J. Dinkins, D.A. Etnier, and W.L. Pennington 2017 Vol. 16, No. 3 Table 1. Records of Ripistes parasita in North America with abundance data for new records. References (Ref.): A = new record, B = Montz 1988, C = Bingham and Miller 1989, D = Simpson and Abele 1984, E = Barton and Griffiths 1984, F = Grigorovich et al. 2003, G = Spencer and Hudson 2003, H = United States Geological Survey 2016. NQ = non-quantitative sample, ND = no data. Hydrologic Units based on USGS (2016a). [Table continued on following page.] State or USGS hydrologic Average Province County Location basin/unit abundance per m2 Ref. GA Baldwin Oconee River, Lake Sinclair Reservoir South Atlantic-Gulf/03 10 A GA Fannin Toccoa River, below Blue Ridge Dam (4 sites) Tennessee/06 32 A GA Forsyth Chattahoochee River, Lake Lanier Reservoir South Atlantic-Gulf/03 1(NQ) A GA Forsyth Banister Creek, below a small impoundment (2 sites) South Atlantic-Gulf/03 2(NQ) A GA Macon Horse Creek, downstream of an impoundment South Atlantic-Gulf/03 20(NQ) A GA Newton Yellow River, several small dams? South Atlantic-Gulf/03 1(NQ) A GA Union Nottely River, Nottely Dam tailwaters Tennessee/06 61 A MI Keweenaw Lake Superior Great Lakes/04 ND F MI Schoolcraft Lake Michigan Great Lakes/04 ND G MI Chippewa St. Mary’s River Great Lakes/04 ND G MN St. Louis Lake Superior Great Lakes/04 ND F MN Itasca Bear River Souris-Red-Rainy/09 ND B MN Koochiching Rainy River Souris-Red-Rainy/09 ND B MS Lowndes Tombigbee River, man-made gravel bars South Atlantic-Gulf/03 ND C NY Broome Susquehanna River Mid-Atlantic/02 ND D NY Broome Chemung River Mid-Atlantic/02 ND D NY Broome Cohocton River Mid-Atlantic/02 ND D NY Oneida Mohawk River-Barge canal Mid-Atlantic/02 ND D NY Steuben Tioga River Mid-Atlantic/02 ND D NY Steuben Chemung River Mid-Atlantic/02 ND D NC Cherokee Nottely River, below Nottely Dam Tennessee/06 11 A NC Clay Hiwassee River, below Chatuge Dam Tennessee/06 23 A NC Montgomery Yadkin River, Tuckertown Dam tailwaters (2 sites) South Atlantic-Gulf/03 44 A NC Pitt Briery Swamp South Atlantic-Gulf/03 4(NQ) A Southeastern Naturalist B.J. Dinkins, D.A. Etnier, and W.L. Pennington 2017 Vol. 16, No. 3 366 Table 1, continued. State or USGS hydrologic Average Province County Location basin/unit abundance per m2 Ref. NC Stanley Yadkin River, Falls Dam tailwaters (2 sites) South Atlantic-Gulf/03 2(NQ) A NC Wake Crabtree Creek, Lassiter Dam tailwaters South Atlantic-Gulf/03 1(NQ) A NC Wake Unnamed tributary to Turkey Creek South Atlantic-Gulf/03 1(NQ) A ON Michipicoten River Great Lakes/04 ND H ON Lake Superior, Thunder Bay Great Lakes/04 ND E ON Saganaga Lake Souris-Red-Rainy/09 12(NQ) A ON Lake Huron, North Channel Great Lakes/04 ND E PA Forest Tionesta Creek, Tionesta Dam tailwaters Ohio/05 3 A TN Anderson Clinch River, Melton Hill Reservoir Tennessee/06 20 A TN Bedford Duck River, below Normandy Reservoir Tennessee/06 1 A TN Blount Little Tennessee River, Chilhowee Dam tailwaters Tennessee/06 22 A TN Hamilton Tennessee River, Chickamauga Reservoir Tennessee/06 160 A TN Loudon Tennessee River, Ft. Loudoun Reservoir tailwaters Tennessee/06 80 A TN Loudon Little Tennessee River, Tellico Dam forebay Tennessee/06 320 A TN Polk North Potato Creek, tailing pond Tennessee/06 1(NQ) A TN Polk Ocoee River, 6 miles below Ocoee Dam No. 2 Tennessee/06 12 A TN Rhea Tennessee River, Watts Bar Dam tailwaters Tennessee/06 30 A TN Roane Clinch River, Watts Bar Reservoir Tennessee/06 140 A TN Roane Clinch River, Melton Hill Dam tailwaters Tennessee/06 2(NQ) A TN Roane Emory River, Watts Bar Reservoir Tennessee/06 20 A Southeastern Naturalist 367 B.J. Dinkins, D.A. Etnier, and W.L. Pennington 2017 Vol. 16, No. 3 Studies have shown that R. parasita uses a variety of solid substrates for settlement including boulders and macrophytes (Jung 2012, Simpson and Abele 1984,). Krodkiewska and Spyra (2015) studied its seasonally changing presence on leaf packs composed of Alnus glutinosa (European Alder) and on the underside of Nuphar lutea (Yellow Pond Lilly) leaves. However, no studies have compared the settlement preferences of R. parasita on different man-made materials It is likely that a variety of mechanisms, including ballast water, introduction of water plants from elsewhere, and attachment to watercraft hulls, contribute to the rapid dispersal of this oligochaete. Life-history studies can play an important role in our efforts to slow or stop the spread of non-indigenous species. Investigating how R. parasita survives desiccation and its preference for different types of recreational boat hulls may prove useful in slowing its dispersal into new freshwater systems. Acknowledgments The authors thank Amy Alford for help with Figure 1 and Gerry Dinkins for his critical review of the manuscript. Funding for this study was provided by Dinkins Biological Consulting, LLC, Powell, TN. Literature Cited Barton, D.R., and M. Griffiths. 1984. Benthic invertebrates of the nearshore zone of eastern Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, and North Channel. Journal of Great Lakes Research 10:407–416. Bingham, C., and A. Miller. 1989. Colonization of a man-made gravel bar by Oligochaeta. Hydrobiologia 180:229–234. Chekanovskaya, O.V. 1981. Aquatic Oligochaeta of the USSR. Translated from Russian for the US Department of the Interior and the National Science Foundation: Amerind Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India. 513 pp. Grigorovich, I.A., A.V. Korniushin, D.K. Gray, I.C. Duggan, R. Colautti, and H.J. MacIsaac. 2003. Lake Superior: An invasion coldspot? Hydrobiologia 499:191–210. Jung, J. 2012. New Record of a naidid oligochaete species, Ripistes parasita (Annelida: Clitellata: Naididae) from Korea. Animal Systematics, Evolution, and Diversity 28:137–139. Krodkiewska, M., and A. Spyra. 2015. New data on the biology and habitat preferences of the oligochaete species Ripistes parasita (Annelida; Clitellata: Naididae): A case study in a temporary woodland pond. Biologia 70:615–624. Loden, M.S. 1981. Reproductive ecology of Naididae Oligochaeta. Hydrobiologia 83:115–124. Minnesota Sea Grant. 2014. Lake Superior’s non-native species. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Available online at, Accessed 20 September 2015. Montz, G.R. 1988. The occurrence of Ripistes parasita (Oligochaeta:Naididae) in Minnesota and its implications for benthic sampling. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 7:160–162. Pelletier, E., C. Bonnet, and K. Lemarchand. 2009. Biofouling growth in cold estuarine waters and evaluation of some chitosan and copper anti-fouling paints. International Journal of Molecular Science 10:3209–3223. Southeastern Naturalist B.J. Dinkins, D.A. Etnier, and W.L. Pennington 2017 Vol. 16, No. 3 368 Piola, R.F., K.A. Dafforn, and E.L. Johnston. 2009. The influence of antifouling practices on marine invasions. Biofouling 25:633–644. Simpson, K.W., and L.E. Abele. 1984. Ripistes parasita (Schmidt) (Oligochaeta:Naididae), a distinctive oligochaete new to North America. Freshwater Invertebrate Biology 3:36–41. Spencer, D.R., and P. Hudson. 2003. The Oligochaeta (Annelida: Clitellata) of the St. Lawrence Great Lakes region: An update. Journal of Great Lakes Research 29:89–104. Sullivan, T.S. 2000. Aquatic Effects of Acid Deposition. Lewis Publishers, New York, NY. 373 pp. US Geological Survey (USGS). 2016a. US Geological Survey hydrological unit map. Available online at, Accessed 9 March 2016. USGS. 2016b. Nonindigenous aquatic species database. Gainesville, FL. Available online at ID2244, Accessed 18 May 2016.