, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 697-711
Date: 27 May 2008

Increasing southern invasion enhances congruence between endemic and exotic Mediterranean fish fauna

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Abstract

Species movements in relation with global warming may increase the spatial overlap between exotic and endemic species, which is a critical issue for the conservation of biodiversity. The Mediterranean Sea, which is a receptacle for exotic species while being a hotspot for endemism, provides exceptional material for a case study. The aim of our study was to quantify (i) the increasing invasion from southern fish exotic species (Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean) that the Mediterranean biota is experiencing and (ii) the spatial overlap between exotic and endemic Mediterranean fish fauna following the northward movement of exotic species within the Mediterranean Sea in the context of global warming. The historical invasion dynamic of exotic fish species and the sea surface temperature series were reconstructed from 1810 to 2006 in order to estimate the correlation between invasion rate and climate. The geographical distributions of exotic and endemic fish richness before and after the period of global warming were used to assess the dynamic of spatial congruence. The results revealed (i) an acceleration of successful introductions from the Red Sea and (ii) the introduction of Atlantic species from lower latitudes in correlation with the increasing temperature of the Mediterranean Sea. We also showed an increasing overlap between the spatial distributions of endemic and exotic species richness. Taken together, our results suggest that endemic fish species are facing a growing number of exotic species because the Mediterranean Sea is acting as a catchment basin for southern species.