Japanese Wireweed on a Chiton in Canada - Observation of the Week, 7/28/19

Our Observation of the Week is this japanese wireweed, seen in Canada by bclarkston!

“I grew up on the seashore of Vancouver Island, literally dragging dead things home washed ashore by the latest tide so I could study them,” says Bridgette Clarkston, “I've had a deep interest in seaweeds, our marine plants, since I was little and I continue that passion today.” Bridgette is currently a faculty member at the University of British Columbia, where she is a member of the botany department, and tells me “in my spare time, I try to fit in research about our local seaweed species, involving my undergraduate students whenever possible.”

Earlier this month, Bridgette was helping out some biologists who were sampling transects by downtown Vancouver (“my job was to help them identify the different species of seaweeds”) when she came across the above japanese wireweed, which is growing on the back of a chiton. As its common name suggests, this plant originates in Japan but has become established in much of Europe and along much of the eastern Pacific, including, of course, Vancouver. It can tolerate large ranges of both salinity and temperature, and while it likes to anchor onto rocks and other surfaces, it can create hazardous conditions for boats when large mats of it are broken free.

Bridgette (above) say she’s new to iNaturalist but is “absolutely loving it.” She does collect seaweeds and dries them to make herbarium specimens, and explains 

Seaweeds preserved in this way will be around for many, many years but it does take a long time for the information about that seaweed to become publicly available in the herbarium's digital database. With iNaturalist, I can still preserve the pressed seaweed in an herbarium, but I can also instantly share the observation with the whole world and share lots of photos of the seaweed "in nature". I love that.

She and one of her students are using iNaturalist to document seaweeds in the Greater Vancouver area this summer, and says this type of survey hasn’t been undertaken in over thirty years. “We eventually hope to publish the results of our work in a scientific journal, but for now, iNaturalist allows us to instantly share what we find with the general public,” she tells me. “I plan to use iNaturalist with my students in future courses to continue documenting our local seaweed flora.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Bridgette is the co-author of Pacific Seaweeds, check it out here.

- This is not the first Observation of the Week involving a chiton and another organism: behold the chiton crab!

Posted by tiwane tiwane, July 29, 2019 04:46

Comments

Seaweed is some interesting stuff! Some are quite delicious, too.

Posted by shawnchong over 2 years ago (Flag)

Very cool! Also perhaps Bridgette or you Tony can tell us what the ID is on the large and handsome species she is holding in the photo?

Posted by susanhewitt over 2 years ago (Flag)

That's what is so wonderful about iNaturalist, and I personally am very thankful to people who created it and to those who contribute in any way to further develop it and supply with images and identifications!

Posted by rotiferologist over 2 years ago (Flag)

So cool! Susan, I'm also interested in that giant piece of plant Bridgette is holding up!!

Posted by nicklambert over 2 years ago (Flag)

@bclarkston -- what is that beautiful big seaweed?

Is it Seersucker Kelp -- Costaria costata?

Posted by susanhewitt over 2 years ago (Flag)

Different maybe, Seersucker has 5 stems?

Posted by nicklambert over 2 years ago (Flag)

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