A cryptic alien seaweed spreading in Mediterranean coastal lagoons.


1 - Introductions of exotic macroalgae have increased recently on European shores. Each introduction
involves at least one vector of transfer. For macroalgae, the potential vectors are aquaculture
(intentional or accidental introduction), fouling on hulls, ballast water, aquarium trading, fishing
2 - Coastal lagoons, including Venice and Thau Lagoon, developed into major hotspots of marine
macrophyte introductions in the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, in shallow lagoons and estuaries,
eutrophication processes have resulted in the development of macroalgal biomass.
3 - The most characteristic species of these macroalgal communities include members of the ulvophycean
genus Ulva L. In foliose Ulvales, simple morphology and anatomy, rampant convergence, remarkable
degrees of phenotypic plasticity in response to environmental factors tend to confound attempts at
identification and make cryptic introduction difficult to detect.
4 - During a survey of macroalgal biodiversity in Venice Lagoon, among the pool of exotic species
found, there was an Ulva differing from the Atlantic and Mediterranean species in both vegetative
and reproductive features. Detailed observations consented us to identify the taxon as Ulva pertusa
Kjellman, previously reported in the Mediterranean only for Thau Lagoon.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv5n1p1

Keywords: Chlorophyta; cryptic species; introduced species; macroalgae; Ulva; Venice Lagoon

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