Inconclusive evidence of sexual reproduction of invasive Halophila stipulacea: a new field guide to encourage investigation of flower and fruit production throughout its invasive range.

Demian A. Willette, Loyola Marymount University


The dioecious seagrass species Halophila stipulacea reproduces mainly through fast clonal growth, underlying its invasive behavior. Here, we provide morphological evidence to show that the first findings of fruits in the Caribbean were misidentified. Consequently, H. stipulacea reproduction is likely still only asexual in the Caribbean. Therefore, we introduce an identification key of H. stipulacea reproductive structures to encourage careful identification and quantification throughout its invasive range. Until large-scale seed production in invaded habitats is reported, the apparent low rate of sexual reproduction needs to be considered in current studies investigating the invasion capacity of this species.