Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.


All of the publications created as part of the VECTORS project are listed below (latest first).
Please use the search box below to find a publication by title, author(s), year or keyword; the most relevant results will be displayed at the top of the page.

  • Elliott, M., A. Borja, A. McQuatters-Gollop, K. Mazik, S. Birchenough, J.H. Andersen, S. Painting and M.A. Peck. (in press). Force majeure: Will climate change affect our ability to attain Good Environmental Status for marine biodiversity? Marine pollution bulletin. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.03.015
    View abstract The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires that Good Environmental Status (GEnS), is achieved for European seas by 2020. These may deviate from GEnS, its 11 Descriptors, targets and baselines, due to endogenic managed pressures (from activities within an area) and externally due to exogenic unmanaged pressures (e.g. climate change). Conceptual models detail the likely or perceived changes expected on marine biodiversity and GEnS Descriptors in the light of climate change. We emphasise that marine management has to accommodate ‘shifting baselines’ caused by climate change particularly during GEnS monitoring, assessment and management and ‘unbounded boundaries’ given the migration and dispersal of highly-mobile species. We suggest climate change may prevent GEnS being met, but Member States may rebut legal challenges by claiming that this is outside its control, force majeure or due to ‘natural causes’ (Article 14 of the MSFD). The analysis is relevant to management of other global seas.
  • Delaney, A.E. and M. Hadjimichael (2017). Forming perceptions and the limits to public participation on ocean commons: evidence from a citizens jury workshop. International Journal of the Commons 11(1), 200-2019. doi:10.18352/ijc.693
    View abstract This article presents data from a citizens jury-inspired deliberative workshop held to tease out stakeholder views of management priorities for a section of the North Sea: the Dogger Bank. As this article reveals, the lessons learned from the Dogger Bank workshop advocate not simply what is required for managing one particular ocean commons, but also highlight some of the public participation research design failings, taking public participation in resource management further by adding to the literature and theoretical discussions on the public sphere. Analysis of the citizens jury-inspired deliberative workshop also highlights the critical issue of power inherent, yet often unacknowledged, in public participation in environmental management. Stakeholder opinions uncovered through workshop discussions also show how commons are viewed today – as an economic resource-- highlighting the trend of the mainstreaming of the commodification of the commons.
  • Maar, M., S. Markager, K.S. Madsen, J. Windolf, M.M. Lyngsgaard, H.E. Andersen and E.F. Møller. (2016). The importance of local versus external nutrient loads for Chl a and primary production in the Western Baltic Sea. Ecological Modelling 320, 258-272. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.09.023
    View abstract The Western Baltic Sea is affected by eutrophication and receives nutrients from local land-based sources, atmospheric deposition and by advection from the neighbouring North Sea and Baltic Sea. In the present study, we evaluated the importance of local (Danish) versus external (Baltic Sea–North Sea) nutrient loads for surface Chl a-concentrations, total areal primary production and the vertical distributions of primary production in the W. Baltic Sea using the 3D coupled HBM-ERGOM model. This was assessed by improving descriptions of nutrient loads and primary production in the model and by conducting scenarios of different nutrient loads according to (i) the eutrophication level in 1990, (ii) the new Danish Water Plan (DWP) and iii) DWP+ the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP2). The model results showed that local nutrient reductions have a profound effect on Chl a concentrations and primary production in the coastal areas of the Western Kattegat and the Belt Sea with the highest impact <10–25 km from the coast. However, on average for the study area, Danish reductions have a limited effect. The DWP complemented the BSAP2 reductions spatially, since they had the highest impact in different areas and both were important for improving the ecological status of the ecosystem. The model suggested a significant change in the vertical distribution of primary production with less deep primary production in response to increased nutrient load. We recommend using this redistribution as an ecological indicator of eutrophication in seasonally stratified seas. The new description of primary production takes into account that carbon fixation continue, even when phytoplankton is severely nutrient limited. This model improvement increases primary production by a factor of 2.6 and brings the model estimates in agreement with measurements and the physiology of phytoplankton. We recommend that other dynamic ecosystem models using Liebig’s law for primary production consider a similar approach.
  • Savina, M., M. Lunghi, B. Archambault, L. Baulier, M. Huret and O. Le Pape. (2016). Sole larval supply to coastal nurseries: interannual variability and connectivity at interregional and interpopulation scales. Journal of Sea Research 111, 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2015.11.010
    View abstract Simulating fish larval drift helps assess the sensitivity of recruitment variability to early life history. An individual based model (IBM) coupled to a hydrodynamic model was used to simulate common sole larval supply from spawning areas to coastal and estuarine nursery grounds at the meta-population scale (4 assessed stocks), from the southern North Sea to the Bay of Biscay (Western Europe) on a 26-yr time series, from 1982 to 2007. The IBM allowed each particle released to be transported by currents, to grow depending on temperature, to migrate vertically depending on development stage, to die along pelagic stages or to settle on a nursery, representing the life history fromspawning tometamorphosis. Themodel outputswere analysed to explore interannual patterns in the amounts of settled sole larvae at the population scale; they suggested: (i) a low connectivity between populations at the larval stage, (ii) a moderate influence of interannual variation in the spawning biomass, (iii) dramatic consequences of life history on the abundance of settling larvae and (iv) the effects of climate variability on the interannual variability of the larvae settlement success.
  • Archambault, B., O. Le Pape, L. Baulier, Y. Vermard, M. Véron and E. Rivot. (2016). Adult-mediated connectivity affects inferences on population dynamics and stock assessment of nursery-dependent fish populations. Fisheries Research 181, 198-213. doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2016.03.023
    View abstract We explore how alternative hypotheses on the degree of mixing among local subpopulations affect statistical inferences on the dynamics and stock assessment of a harvested flatfish population, namely, thecommon sole population in the Eastern Channel (ICES area VIId). The current paradigm considers a single, well-mixed, spatially homogeneous population with juveniles from all coastal nursery grounds along the French and UK coasts that contribute to a single adult population and one pool of eggs. Based on the available data and ecological knowledge, we developed a spatial Bayesian integrated life-cycle model that consists of three subpopulations (one near the UK coast and two near the French coast, denoted UK, WestFR and East FR, respectively) supported by their respective local nurseries, with the connectivity among the three components limited to low exchanges during larval drift. Considering the population dynamics among three subpopulations (instead of a single homogeneous one) drastically changes our inferences onthe productivity of nursery sectors and their relative contribution to total recruitment. Estimates of theEast FR subpopulation’s contribution to total recruitment increase (29% in the single population model; 48% in the three subpopulation model), balanced by a decrease in the UK subpopulation’s contribution (53%; 34%). Whereas an assessment based on the hypothesis of a single spatially homogeneous popula-tion in the EC indicates exploitation far above MSY (current F/FMSY= 1.8), an assessment that considersa metapopulation with three loosely connected subpopulations revealed a different status, with the UK and East FR subpopulations being exploited above MSY (current F/FMSY= 1.9 and 2, respectively) and the West FR subpopulation approaching full exploitation (current F/FMSY= 1.05). This approach contributesto the quantitative assessment of spatial fishery and coastal habitat management plans.
  • Como, S., A. Pais, P. Rumolo, S. Saba, M. Sprovieri and P. Magni. (2016). Effects of an invasive mussel, Arcuatula senhousia, on local benthic consumers: a laboratory 13C-labeling study. Marine Biology 163(6), Article: 140. doi:10.1007/s00227-016-2912-0
    View abstract Filter-feeding bivalves play an important ecological role in aquatic systems through benthic–pelagic coupling. However, the mechanisms by which invasive mussels influence the food uptake by local consumers are little known. We tested the interactive effects of the invasive mussel Arcuatula senhousia and the native clam Ruditapes decussatus on the uptake of 13C-enriched microalgae, Isochrysis sp., by two polychaetes, the surface deposit feeder Cirriformia tentaculata and the sub-surface deposit feeder Phylo foetida. Polychaetes were exposed to two different densities of A. senhousia and R. decussatus used alone or together. In each treatment, the 13C-concentration throughout the sediment horizon (0–0.5, 0.5–2.5 and 2.5–5 cm) was also quantified. Results showed that, irrespective of bivalve densities, the 13C-uptake by C. tentaculata was lower in the presence of the two bivalves together than in the presence of one bivalve species (either A. senhousia or R. decussatus). This was consistent with decreased 13C-concentrations in the 0–0.5 cm sediment layer in the treatment with the two bivalves together. Contrary to C. tentaculata, no changes were observed among treatments in the 13C-uptake by P. foetida. This possibly reflected a limited 13C-enrichment of the lower sediment layers. Our main findings are: (1) A. senhousia reduces the 13C-uptake by R. decussatus, and (2) A. senhousia reduces the availability of phytoplankton-derived C for deposit feeders by impairing the feeding, incorporation and bio-deposition of R. decussatus. We conclude that the interaction of A. senhousia with native bivalves needs to be taken into consideration in future food web studies.
  • Hattam, C., J.P. Atkins, N.J. Beaumont, T. Börger, A. Böhnke-Henrichs, D. Burdon, R. de Groot, E. Hoefnagel, P.A.L.D. Nunes, J. Piwowarczyk, S. Sastre and M.C. Austen. (2015). Marine ecosystem services: Linking indicators to their classification. Ecological Indicators 49, 61-75.
    View abstract There is a multitude of ecosystem service classifications available within the literature, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Elements of them have been used to tailor a generic ecosystem service classification for the marine environment and then for a case study site within the North Sea: the Dogger Bank. Indicators for each of the ecosystem services, deemed relevant to the case study site, were identified. Each indicator was then assessed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure its relevance and applicability to environmental management. This paper identifies the need to distinguish between indicators of ecosystem services that are entirely ecological in nature (and largely reveal the potential of an ecosystem to provide ecosystem services), indicators for the ecological processes contributing to the delivery of these services, and indicators of benefits that reveal the realized human use or enjoyment of an ecosystem service. It highlights some of the difficulties faced in selecting meaningful indicators, such as problems of specificity, spatial disconnect and the considerable uncertainty about marine species, habitats and the processes, functions and services they contribute to.
  • Gravili, C., D. De Vito, C.G. Di Camillo, L. Martell, S. Piraino and F. Boero. (2015). The non-Siphonophoran Hydrozoa (Cnidaria) of Salento, Italy with notes on their life-cycles: an illustrated guide, Gravili, C., D. De Vito, C.G. Di Camillo, L. Martell, S. Piraino and F. Boero, eds,Zootaxa (Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand).
    View abstract The majority of Hydrozoa is represented by not readily noticeable, small species. In recent decades, however, taxonomic knowledge of the group has increased worldwide, with a significant number of investigations focused on the Mediterranean Sea. Over more than two decades, 115 species of hydrozoans were recorded from coastal waters along nearly 300 km of the Salento Peninsula (Apulia, Italy). For each species, records from different collections were merged into single sheets of a general database. For each species, the following information is reported: description, cnidome, biology, occurrence in Salento, worldwide distribution, and bibliography. Descriptions refer to the benthic hydroid stage and, when present, also to the planktonic medusa stage. The 115 species of Hydrozoa, recorded along the Salento coastline, represent 25% of the Mediterranean Hydrozoa fauna (totaling 461 species), and nearly 3% of 3,702 world's known species covered in a recent monograph. Four species are non-indigenous, three of them with invasive behavior (Clytia hummelincki, Clytia linearis, and Eudendrium carneum), and one species now very common (Eudendrium merulum) in Salento. The complete life cycle of Clytia paulensis (Vanhöffen, 1910) is described for the first time.
  • Bastardie, F., J.R. Nielsen, O.R. Eigaard, H.O. Fock, P. Jonsson and V. Bartolino. (2015). Competition for marine space: modelling the Baltic Sea fisheries and effort displacement under spatial restrictions. ICES Journal of Marine Science 72(3), 824-840. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsu215
    View abstract Maritime spatial planning (MSP) and fishery management may generate extra costs for fisheries by constraining fishers activity with conservation areas and new utilizations of the sea. More energy-efficient fisheries are also likely to alter existing fishing patterns, which already vary from fishery to fishery and from vessel to vessel. The impact assessment of new spatial plans involving fisheries should be based on quantitative bioeconomic analyses that take into account individual vessel decisions, and trade-offs in cross-sector conflicting interests.Weuse a vessel-oriented decision-support tool (the DISPLACE model) to combine stochastic variations in spatial fishing activities with harvested resource dynamics in scenario projections. The assessment computes economic and stock status indicators by modelling the activity of Danish, Swedish, and German vessels (.12 m) in the international western Baltic Sea commercial fishery, together with the underlying size-based distribution dynamics of the main fishery resources of sprat, herring, and cod. The outcomes of alternative scenarios for spatial effort displacement are exemplified by evaluating the fishers's abilities to adapt to spatial plans under various constraints. Interlinked spatial, technical, and biological dynamics of vessels and stocks in the scenarios result in stable profits, which compensate for the additional costs from effort displacement and release pressure on the fish stocks. The effort is further redirected away from sensitive benthic habitats, enhancing the ecological positive effects. The energy efficiency of some of the vessels, however, is strongly reduced with the new zonation, and some of the vessels suffer decreased profits. The DISPLACE model serves as a spatially explicit bioeconomic benchmark tool for management strategy evaluations for capturing tactical decision-making in reaction to MSP.
  • Janßen, H., T. Schröder, M.L. Zettler and F. Pollehne. (2015). Offshore wind farms in the southwestern Baltic Sea: A model study of regional impacts on oxygen conditions. Journal of Sea Research 95, 248-257. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2014.05.001
    View abstract Offshore wind farm piles are secondary hard substrate and hence an attractive colonization surface for many species. Especially in marine areas dominated by soft sediments, wind farms may lead to a significant increase in biomass by enlarging habitats from benthos layers into the pelagic column. A concomitant effect is the increase in oxygen consumption through respiration of living biomass and especially through degradation of dead biomass, mainly Mytilus edulis. This leads to impacts on the regional oxygen budget, and local anoxia in the direct vicinity of wind farm piles has been documented in scientific literature. The present study investigates the regional impact of multiple wind farms on oxygen concentration levels and on the appearance of hypoxia. A five-year data sampling with a steel cylinder and fouling plates delivered data for a 3D ecosystem model. The results show that wind farms do not lead to a significant decrease in oxygen on the mesoscale level. But additional anoxia may occur locally, which may lead to the release of hydrogen sulfide on microscale level and potential subsequent regional impacts.
  • Lehtiniemi, M., H. Ojaveer, M. David, B.S. Galil, S. Gollasch, C. McKenzie, D. Minchin, A. Occhipinti Ambrogi, S. Olenin and J. Pederson. (2015). Dose of truth—Monitoring marine non-indigenous species to serve legislative requirements. Marine Policy 54, 26-35. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2014.12.015
    View abstract Non-indigenous species (NIS) are recognized as a global threat to biodiversity and monitoring their presence and impacts is considered a prerequisite for marine environmental management and sustainable development. However, monitoring for NIS seldom takes place except for a few baseline surveys. With the goal of serving the requirements of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species, the paper highlights the importance of early detection of NIS in dispersal hubs for a rapid management response, and of long-term monitoring for tracking the effects of NIS within recipient ecosystems, including coastal systems especially vulnerable to introductions. The conceptual framework also demonstrates the need for port monitoring, which should serve the above mentioned requirements but also provide the required information for implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments. Large scale monitoring of native, cryptogenic and NIS in natural and man-made habitats will collectively lead to meeting international requirements. Cost-efficient rapid assessments of target species may provide timely information for managers and policy-advisers focusing on particular NIS at particular localities, but this cannot replace long-term monitoring. To support legislative requirements, collected data should be verified and stored in a publicly accessible and routinely updated database/information system. Public involvement should be encouraged as part of monitoring programs where feasible.
  • Manzari, C., B. Fosso, M. Marzano, A. Annese, R. Caprioli, A.M. D'Erchia, C. Gissi, M. Intranuovo, E. Picardi, M. Santamaria, S. Scorrano, G. Sgaramella, L. Stabili, S. Piraino and G. Pesole. (2015). The influence of invasive jellyfish blooms on the aquatic microbiome in a coastal lagoon (Varano, SE Italy) detected by an Illumina-based deep sequencing strategy. Biological Invasions 17(3), 923-940. doi:10.1007/s10530-014-0810-2
    View abstract The rapid expansion of multicellular native and alien species outbreaks in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (bioinvasions) may produce significant impacts on bacterial community dynamics and nutrient pathways with major ecological implications. In aquatic ecosystems, bioinvasions may cause adverse effects on the water quality resulting from changes in biological, chemical and physical properties linked to significant transformations of the microbial taxonomic and functional diversity. Here we used an effective and highly sensitive experimental strategy, bypassing the efficiency bottleneck of the traditional bacterial isolation and culturing method, to identify changes of the planktonic microbial community inhabiting a marine coastal lagoon (Varano, Adriatic Sea) under the influence of an outbreakforming alien jellyfish species. Water samples were collected from two areas that differed in their level of confinement inside in the lagoon and jellyfish densities (W, up to 12.4 medusae m-3; E, up to 0.03 medusae m-3) to conduct a snapshot microbiome analysis by a metagenomic approach. After extraction of the genetic material in the environmental water samples, we deepsequenced metagenomic amplicons of the V5-V6 region of the 16S rRNA bacterial gene by an Illumina MiSeq platform. Experiments were carried out in triplicates, so six libraries of dual indexed amplicons of 420 bp were successfully sequenced on the MiSeq platform using a 2 9 250 bp paired-end sequencing strategy. Approximately 7.5 million paired-end reads (i.e. 15 million total reads) were generated, with an average of 2.5 million reads (1.25 Mpairs) per sample replicate. The sequence data, analyzed through a novel bioinformatics pipeline (BioMaS), showed that the structure of the resident bacterial community was significantly affected by the occurrence of jellyfish outbreaks. Clear qualitative and quantitative differences were found between the western and eastern areas (characterized by many or few jellyfish), with 84 families, 153 genera and 324 species in the W samples, and 104 families, 199 genera and 331 species in the E samples. Significant differences between the two sampling areas were particularly detected in the occurrence of 16 families, 22 genera and 61 species of microbial taxa. This is the first time that a NGS platform has been used to screen the impact of jellyfish bioinvasions on the aquatic microbiome, providing a preliminary assessment of jellyfish-driven changes of the functional and structural microbial biodiversity.
  • Maggi, E., L. Benedetti-Cecchi, A. Castelli, E. Chatzinikolaou, T.P. Crowe, G. Ghedini, J. Kotta, D.A. Lyons, C. Ravaglioli, G. Rilov, L. Rindi and F. Bulleri. (2015). Ecological impacts of invading seaweeds: a meta-analysis of their effects at different trophic levels. Diversity and Distributions 21, 1-12. doi:10.1111/ddi.12264
    View abstract Biological invasions are among the main threats to biodiversity. To promote a mechanistic understanding of the ecological impacts of non-native seaweeds, we assessed how effects on resident organisms vary according to their trophic level.
  • Ojaveer, H. and J. Kotta. (2015). Ecosystem impacts of the widespread non-indigenous species in the Baltic Sea: literature survey evidences major limitations in knowledge. Hydrobiologia 750(1), 171-185. doi:10.1007/s10750-014-2080-5
    View abstract Invasion of non-indigenous species (NIS) is acknowledged as one of the most important external drivers affecting structure and functions of marine ecosystems globally. This paper offers literature based analysis on the effects of the widespread (occurring in at least 50% of countries) and currently established NIS on ecosystem features in the Baltic Sea. It appears that out of the 18 NIS taxa studied, there are no published records on 28% of NIS for any of the seven impact categories investigated. When ecological impacts are known, laboratory experimental evidence dominates over field studies. Combined observations on impact strength, information type and confidence level suggest that the two benthic invertebrates, the polychaete Marenzelleria spp. and the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas 1771) exert the highest ecosystem impact. Despite continuously accumulating information on the NIS effects, however, the confidence of findings is still low. Thus, we still understand very little on both the direction and magnitude of the effects of even the most widespread NIS on the structure and dynamics of the Baltic Sea ecosystems. In order to increase reliability of such assessments, future research should be targeted towards spatially-explicit field surveys and experimenting of multitrophic systems, together with modelling of ecosystem impact.
  • Simons, S.L., R. Döring and A. Temming. (2015). Combining area closures with catch regulations in fisheries with spatio-temporal variation: Bio-economic implications for the North Sea saithe fishery. Marine Policy 51, 281-292.
    View abstract Although there exists an EU-Norway long-term management plan for North Sea saithe, including a catch regulation, the spawning stock biomass has declined in the last few years, recruitment has been below average since 2006 and growth rates are low. Moreover, catch rates used as a proxy of stock abundance in stock assessment, are believed to decline much more slowly than the actual stock abundance. Thus, a quota-based system may not be sufficient to sustain the stock. A bio-economic simulation and optimisation model was used to explore how various area closures in combination with the quota-system affect levels of by-catch, net profit of individual fleet segments from different ports, and stock development in that fishery. Tested area closures differed in duration, size and location relative to major ports and to seasonal movement patterns of species. These closures were tested under variable recruitment. Area closures that were covering the seasonal migration route of saithe revealed almost two times greater increases in spawning stock biomass than closures that were not covering the migration route. Even area closures where a high dispersal rate of individuals was assumed resulted in increased spawning stock biomass of saithe. Benefits of the tested area closures were distributed heterogeneously among individual fleet segments. Increases of saithe stock size were offset by increases in cod by-catch. The location of an area closure relative to the home port of fleet segments decided if steaming costs increased and catches decreased.
  • Smyth, K., N. Christie, D. Burdon, J.P. Atkins, R. Barnes and M. Elliott. (2015). Renewables to reefs? Decommissioning options for the offshore wind power industry. Marine Pollution Bulletin 90, 247-258.
    View abstract The offshore wind power industry is relatively new but increasing globally, hence it is important that the whole life-cycle is managed. The construction-operation-decommissioning cycle is likely to take 20-30 years and whilst decommissioning may not be undertaken for many years, its management needs to be addressed in both current and future marine management regimes. This can be defined within a Drivers-Activities-Pressures-State Changes-Impacts (on human Welfare)-Responses framework. This paper considers the main decommissioning options - partial or complete removal of all components. A SWOT analysis shows environmental and economic benefits in partial as opposed to complete removal, especially if habitat created on the structures has conservation or commercial value. Benefits (and repercussions) are defined in terms of losses and gains of ecosystem services and societal benefits. The legal precedents and repercussions of both options are considered in terms of the 10-tenets of sustainable marine management. Finally a 'renewables-to-reefs' programme is proposed.
  • David, M. and S. Gollasch. (2015). Global maritime transport and ballast water management. Invading Nature - Springer Series in Invasion Ecology 8, 1-11. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9367-4_1
    View abstract Today global shipping transports over 90 % of the world’s overseas trade and trends anticipate that it will continue to play an increasing role world-wide. Shipping operations inevitably include also pressures on natural environments. The most recent waterborne threat is the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens with ballast water and sediments releases, which may result in harmful effects on the natural environment, human health, property and resources globally. The significance of the ballast water issue was already addressed in 1973 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the United Nations specialised agency for the regulation of international maritime transport at the global scale. Committed work by many experts, scientists, politicians, IGOs and NGOs at IMO resulted in the adoption if the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) in February 2004, which is now to be ratified and implemented. Work on ballast water management issues has also shown to be very complex, hence there are no simple solutions. Nevertheless, the BWM Convention represents a globally uniform framework for the implementation of ballast water management measures, and different supporting tools like risk assessment and decision support systems have been developed to support its efficiency. In this chapter the reader is introduced to various ballast water issues and responses to it. The intention of this book and the overview of its content is also presented.
  • Azzurro, E., M. Goren, A. Diamant, B.S. Galil and G. Bernardi. (2015). Establishing the identity and assessing the dynamics of invasion in the Mediterranean Sea by the dusky sweeper, Pempheris rhomboidea Kossmann & Räuber, 1877 (Pempheridae, Perciformes). Biological Invasions 17(3), 815-826. doi:10.1007/s10530-014-0836-5
    View abstract We investigate the genetic diversity of the sweeper Pempheris, a biological invader that entered the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. Two mitochondrial regions and one nuclear region were sequenced and topological reconstructions investigated from samples collected from the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and three Indo-Pacific localities. Morphological and molecular analyses assigned samples from this study to three distinct species of Pempheris in the Red Sea (P. flavicyla, P. rhomboidea, and P. tominagai) and confirmed a misidentification of the Mediterranean sweepers, previously identified as P. vanicolensis and now recognized as P. rhomboidea. Pempheris rhomboidea clustered in a single clade including specimens from Madagascar and South Africa. Similarly to most other studied Lessepsian bioinvaders, no evidence of a genetic bottleneck in its invasive Mediterranean population was found. Yet, lowered gene flow levels were observed between Red Sea and Mediterranean populations in this species. These findings highlight the importance of molecular tools to the proper identification of morphologically challenging alien organisms and contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of Lessepsian invasions.
  • Tepolt, C.K. (2015). Adaptation in marine invasion: a genetic perspective. Biological Invasions 17(3), 887-903. doi:10.1007/s10530-014-0825-8
    View abstract Genetic adaptation—heritable changes that alter an organism’s performance—may facilitate invasion at several scales, but is seldom considered in predicting and managing marine invasions. However, a growing body of research—largely based on emerging genetic approaches—suggests that adaptation is possible and potentially widespread in the marine realm. Here, I review evidence for adaptation in marine invasion, considering both quantitative and genetic studies. Quantitative studies, which consider trait-based differences between populations or individuals without directly examining genetic makeup, have suggested local adaptation in several high-profile species. This implies that invasion risk may not be constant from population to population within a species, a key assumption of most invasion models. However, in many quantitative studies, the effects of heritable adaptive changes may be confounded with the effects of plasticity. Molecular approaches can help disentangle these effects, and studies at the genomic level are beginning to elucidate the specific genetic patterns and pathways underlying adaptation in invasion. While studies at this scale are currently rare in the marine invasion literature, they are likely to become increasingly prevalent—and useful—now that next-generation sequencing approaches have become tractable in non-model systems. Both traditional and emerging genetic approaches can improve our understanding of adaptation in marine invasions, and can aid managers in making accurate predictions of invasion spread and risk.
  • Rius, M., X. Turon, G. Bernardi, F.A.M. Volckaert and F. Viard. (2015). Marine invasion genetics: from spatio-temporal patterns to evolutionary outcomes. Biological Invasions 17(3), 869-885. doi:10.1007/s10530-014-0792-0
    View abstract Marine invasion genetics: from spatio-temporal patterns to evolutionary outcomes. Biological Invasions. doi:10.1007/s10530-014-0792-0 $Over the last 15 years studies on invasion genetics have provided important insights to unravel cryptic diversity, track the origin of colonizers and reveal pathways of introductions. Despite all these advances, to date little is known about how evolutionary processes influence the observed genetic patterns in marine biological invasions. Here, firstly we review the literature on invasion genetics that include samples from European seas. These seas constitute a wide array of unique water masses with diverse degrees of connectivity, and have a long history of species introductions. We found that only a small fraction of the recorded introduced species has been genetically analysed. Furthermore, most studies restrict their approach to describe patterns of cryptic diversity and genetic structure, with the underlying mechanisms involved in the invasion process being largely understudied. Secondly, we analyse how genetic, reproductive and anthropogenic traits shape genetic patterns of marine introduced species. We found that most studies reveal similar genetic diversity values in both native and introduced ranges, report evidence of multiple introductions, and show that genetic patterns in the introduced range are not explained by taxonomic group or reproductive strategy. Finally, we discuss the evolutionary implications derived from genetic patterns observed in non-indigenous species. We identify different scenarios that are determined by propagule pressure, phenotypic plasticity and pre-adaptation, and the effects of selection and genetic admixture. We conclude that there is a need for further investigations of evolutionary mechanisms that affect individual fitness and adaptation to rapid environmental change.
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