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      Biological invasions as a component of global change in stressed marine ecosystems.

      Marine pollution bulletin

      Animals, Chlorophyta, Commerce, Conservation of Natural Resources, Ecosystem, Fisheries, Humans, Mediterranean Sea, Population Dynamics, Transportation, Travel

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          Biological invasions in marine environment are the lesser known aspect of global change. However, recent events which occurred in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrate that they represent a serious ecological and economical menace leading to biodiversity loss, ecosystem unbalancing, fishery and tourism impairment. In this paper we review marine bioinvasions using examples taken from the Mediterranean/Black Sea region. Particular attention is given to the environmental status of the receiving area as a fundamental pre-requisite for the colonisation success of alien species. The spread of the tropical algae belonging to the genus Caulerpa in the northwestern basin of the Mediterranean Sea has been facilitated by pre-existing conditions of instability of the Posidonia oceanica endemic ecosystem in relation to stress of both natural and anthropogenic origin. Human interventions caused long-term modification in the Black Sea environment, preparing a fertile ground for mass bioinvasion of aquatic nuisance species which, in some cases, altered the original equilibrium of the entire basin. Finally, the Venice lagoon is presented as the third example of an environment subjected to high propagule pressure and anthropogenic forcing and bearing the higher "diversity" of non-indigenous species compared to the other Mediterranean lagoons. Stressed environments are easily colonised by alien species; understanding the links between human and natural disturbance and massive development of non-indigenous species will help prevent marine bioinvasions, that are already favoured by global oceanic trade.

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