Biology (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. J. Scott Harrison



Megabalanus coccopoma is a prominent invasive species off the coast of Georgia. Recently, among collected samples thought to be M. coccopoma, several individuals of an unidentified species of barnacle were found. The species has been identified as a Megabalanus species, but is still unidentified to the species level. Species identification is difficult due to morphological variation, inconsistent taxonomic keys, and unknown origin. In this study I developed a method to accurately distinguish M. coccopoma from the unidentified Megabalanus sp. using sequence differences in the mitochondrial Cytochrome Oxidase I (COI) gene. This study will provide an accurate estimate of the relative abundance and distribution of the unknown species and M. coccopoma at 7 locations off the coast of Georgia including buoys, offshore towers, and intertidal sites. The two species had different distributions. Megabalanus coccopoma was found at all sites and the unidentified Megabalanus sp. was only found at offshore sites. At the offshore sites, the two species occurred in equal abundances.