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      Distribution of Caulerpa taxifolia var. distichophylla (Sonder) Verlaque, Huisman & Procaccini in the Mediterranean Sea

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          The Non-Indigenous Species (NIS) Caulerpa taxifolia var. distichophylla (Sonder) Verlaque, Huisman & Procaccini has been reported for the first time in the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of South Turkey. This NIS is actively expanding into the Eastern and Western Mediterranean Sea. In this paper, we present an overview of the current distribution of this alga in the Mediterranean Sea, based on relevant scientific publications, grey literature and personal observations. New records from the Sicilian coast (Italy) are also reported. Caulerpa taxifolia var. distichophylla was found over a wide range of environmental conditions (depth, light and substratum), suggesting a broad ecological plasticity of this alga which makes it a potential threat for the Mediterranean benthic communities. In this respect, artificial structures, often linked to harbours and maritime traffic, seem to provide suitable habitats for this NIS. Since maritime traffic is intense in the Mediterranean Sea, further expansion of C. taxifolia var. distichophylla in this region is to be expected. For this reason, it is very important to build up an overview on the current distribution of the species and its possible pattern of colonisation in relation to environmental conditions, as well as in view of future climate change scenarios.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Artificial marine structures facilitate the spread of a non-indigenous green alga,Codium fragilessp.tomentosoides, in the north Adriatic Sea

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            Alien species in the Mediterranean Sea by 2012. A contribution to the application of European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Part 2. Introduction trends and pathways

            More than 60 marine non-indigenous species (NIS) have been removed from previous lists and 84 species have been added, bringing the total to 986 alien species in the Mediterranean [775 in the eastern Mediterranean (EMED), 249 in the central Mediterranean (CMED), 190 in the Adriatic Sea (ADRIA) and 308 in the western Mediterranean (WMED)]. There were 48 new entries since 2011 which can be interpreted as approximately one new entry every two weeks. The number of alien species continues to increase, by 2-3 species per year for macrophytes, molluscs and polychaetes, 3-4 species per year for crustaceans, and 6 species per year for fish. The dominant group among alien species is molluscs (with 215 species), followed by crustaceans (159) and polychaetes (132). Macrophytes are the leading group of NIS in the ADRIA and the WMED, reaching 26-30% of all aliens, whereas in the EMED they barely constitute 10% of the introductions. In the EMED, molluscs are the most species-rich group, followed by crustaceans, fish and polychaetes. More than half (54%) of the marine alien species in the Mediterranean were probably introduced by corridors (mainly Suez). Shipping is blamed directly for the introduction of only 12 species, whereas it is assumed to be the most likely pathway of introduction (via ballasts or fouling) of another 300 species. For approximately 100 species shipping is a probable pathway along with the Suez Canal and/or aquaculture. Approximately 20 species have been introduced with certainty via aquaculture, while >50 species (mostly macroalgae), occurring in the vicinity of oyster farms, are assumed to be introduced accidentally as contaminants of imported species. A total of 18 species are assumed to have been introduced by the aquarium trade. Lessepsian species decline westwards, while the reverse pattern is evident for ship-mediated species and for those introduced with aquaculture. There is an increasing trend in new introductions via the Suez Canal and via shipping.
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              Introduced marine organisms as habitat modifiers.

              Introductions of non-indigenous species (NIS) are mostly discussed through their impact on biodiversity. However, NIS can also act as ecosystem engineers, influencing the habitat itself, positively or negatively, directly or indirectly, which should be included when making risk assessments. Special concern should be given to changes in ecological services provided by the ecosystem. Physically, NIS may affect the substrate itself, or alter habitat architecture, indirectly influencing water movements, sediment accumulation, and light conditions. Chemical changes brought upon by NIS occur both on small and large scales, some having positive effects on ecosystem services, others can perturb epibionts. Furthermore, NIS may negatively affect natural resources, aquaculture or create fouling communities, all resulting in a negative impact on economics. However, if removed, already established NIS can be used as bioremediators, having a positive effect on different ecosystems. Using NIS for habitat management may be economically profitable, but could affect the habitat adversely.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                September 25 2019
                September 25 2019
                : 37
                : 17-29
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.37.33079
                © 2019

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