Bioinvasion impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health in the Mediterranean Sea

Tsirintanis, Konstantinos; Azzurro, Ernesto; Crocetta, Fabio; Dimiza, Margarita; Froglia, C.; Gerovasileiou, Vasilis; Langeneck, Joachim; Mancinelli, Giorgio; Rosso, Antonietta; Stern, Nir; Triantaphyllou, Maria V.; Tsiamis, Konstantinos; Turon, Xavier; Verlaque, Marc; Zenetos, A.; Katsanevakis, Stelios. Aquatic Invasions 17(3) : 308-352 (2022)  DIGITAL CSIC  

Biological invasions have become a defining feature of marine Mediterranean ecosystems with significant impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health. We systematically reviewed the current knowledge on the impacts of marine biological invasions in the Mediterranean Sea. We screened relevant literature and applied a standardised framework that classifies mechanisms and magnitude of impacts and type of evidence. Overall, 103 alien and cryptogenic species were analysed, 59 of which were associated with both negative and positive impacts, 17 to only negative, and 13 to only positive; no impacts were found for 14 species. Evidence for most reported impacts (52%) was of medium strength, but for 32% of impact reports evidence was weak, based solely on expert judgement. Only 16% of the reported impacts were based on experimental studies. Our assessment allowed us to create an inventory of 88 alien and cryptogenic species from 16 different phyla with reported moderate to high impacts. The ten worst invasive species in terms of reported negative impacts on biodiversity include six algae, two fishes, and two molluscs, with the green alga Caulerpa cylindracea ranking first. Negative impacts on biodiversity prevailed over positive ones. Competition for resources, the creation of novel habitat through ecosystem engineering, and predation were the primary reported mechanisms of negative effects. Most cases of combined negative and positive impacts on biodiversity referred to community-level modifications. Overall, more positive than negative impacts were reported on ecosystem services, but this varied depending on the service. For human health, only negative impacts were recorded. Substantial variation was found among Mediterranean ecoregions in terms of mechanisms of impact and the taxonomic identity of impacting species. There was no evidence that the magnitude of impact increases with residence time. Holistic approaches and experimental research constitute the way forward to better understanding and managing biological invasions.