Project ANIMA

Which factors determine the invasive potential of introduced species?

Which is the origin of the invasive algae invading the Mediterranean?

Some of the invasive species exhibit thermal responses in agreement with the characteristics of temperate seaweeds, compromising the until now stated tropical origin of both species. Comparative molecular investigation on the phylogeny and biogeography of Mediterranean and extra-Mediterranean populations studies will clarify the origin of the invasive strain and therefore its environmental niche.

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  • Golo et al. Unraveling the origin and potential invasivility of Lophocladia sp. in the Mediterranean Sea. In prep.

Native environmental conditions, will strongly determine ecological niche suitability in the new areas.

Invasive algae tolerance to different temperature thresholds is the first step determining invasiveness in a new area.

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  • Golo R, Santamaria J, Verges A, Cebrian E. Temperature response of tropical species (L. trichoclados) from native and invaded sources. In prep.

Can invasive algae adapt or acclimate to a new environmental conditions?

Populations from different places can adapt to different seawater temperatures, which might be essential to determine the future invasibility of invasive algae under climate change.

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  • Santamaría J, Golo R, Cebrian E, García M, Vergés A (2020). Stressful conditions give rise to a novel and cryptic filamentous form of Caulerpa cylindracea. Frontiers in Marine Science. Accepted.

Are the most structured and biodiverse habitats those most resistant to the invasion?

Are the most structured and biodiverse habitats those most resistant to the invasion?

We have seen that it strongly depends on the habitat and invasive species traits.

In coralligenous habitats presence of the red gorgonian Paramuricea clavata seems to decrease Caulerpa cylindracea invasiveness. Link al paper de científic reports de la Jana. In contrast, in Cystoseira forest, biodiversity and high structure facilitates the invasion of Lophocladia lallemandii. Link al paper de Biological Invasions meu.

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  • Cebrian E, Vila M, Tomas F, López-Sendino P, Ballesteros E (2018) Biodiversity facilitates invasion success in a benthic seaweed forest. Biological Invasions 20: 2839–2848. DOI:
  • Wangensteen O, Cebrian E, Palacín C, Turon X (2018) Under the canopy: Community- wide effects of invasive algae in Marine Protected Areas revealed by metabarcoding. Marine Pollution Bulletin 127: 54-66. DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.11.033
  • Verdura J, Linares C, Ballesteros E, Coma R, Uriz MJ, Bensoussan N, Cebrian E (2019) Biodiversity loss in a Mediterranean ecosystem due to an extreme warming event unveil the role of an engineering gorgonian species. Scientific Reports. 9: 5911
  • Cefalì ME, Cebrian E, Chappuis E, Terradas M, Mariani S, Ballesteros E (2019) Community-dependent variability in species composition and richness on rocky shores at a regional scale. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 230: 106425
  • Golo R, Fiorenza M, Verges A, Cebrian E. Comparison among communities during an Invasion process. In prep.

Can native grazers limit the expansion of invasive algae?

Although the role of the native herbivorous Paracentrotus lividus seems not relevant, the real potential role of Sarpa salpa remains uncertain.

In this project we aim to elucidate whether fish herbivory could cause C. cylindracea regressions, considering not only the herbivory itself but also the complexity of the ecosystem.

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  • Santamaría J, Tomas F, Ballesteros E, Ruiz JM, Bernardeau-Esteller J,Terrados J, Cebrian E (2020). Biotic resistance against an invasive marine macroalga depends on competition, herbivory and their interaction. Ecology. Submitted.
  • Santamaría J, Tomas F, Ballesteros E, Cebrian E (2020). Fish herbivory on Caulerpa cylindracea: An assessment of the importance of omnivorous sparid fishes. Biological Invasions. Submitted.

The synergic and combined effects of global warming and bioinvasions in marine Mediterranean ecosystems

Climate change can impact impairing native habitats biodiversity and functioning. Will those habitats be more vulnerable to the invasions?

In Cabrera NP, an extreme warming event replaces a structurally complex habitat, dominated by long-lived species, by a simplified habitat (lower species diversity and richness) dominated by turf-forming species. On the basis of a study involving the experimental manipulation of the presence of the gorgonian Paramuricea clavata, we observed that its presence mitigated the effects of warming by maintaining the original assemblage dominated by macroinvertebrates and delaying the proliferation and spread of the invasive alga Caulerpa cylindracea

Understanding how global change-related disturbances interact is critical in the current context of rapid changes and the enlargement of the geographical overlap of stressors and may help to predict changes in community structure resulting from global warming and other stressors (for example bioinvasions).

The particular species traits of each invasive species will determine its response to climate change. Niche modeling and mechanistic models with data from the eco-physiological experiments will allow elucidating future trends of the invasive algae in the Mediterranean Sea.

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  • Verdura J, Sales M, Ballesteros E, Cefalì ME, Cebrian E (2018) Restoration of a canopy-forming alga based on recruitment enhancement: methods and longterm success assessment. Frontiers in Plant Sciences 9: 1832 DOI:
  • de Caralt S, Verdura J, Vergés A, Ballesteros E, Cebrian E (2020) Differential effects of pollution on adult and recruits of a canopy-forming alga: implications for population viability under low pollutant levels. Scientific Reports
  • Verdura J, Santamaría J, Ballesteros E, Smale D, Cefalì ME, Golo R, de Caralt S, Vergés A, Cebrian E. Local-scale climatic refugia offer sanctuary for a habitat-forming species during a marine heatwave. Journal of Ecology. Accepted.
  • de Caralt S, Verdura J, Vergés A, Ballesteros E, Cebrian E. Synergic effects of temperature and radiation on two species of canopy-forming macroalgae living in contrasted hydrodynamic conditions. In prep.