, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 215-237
Date: 02 Jul 2010

Alien species along the Italian coasts: an overview

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Abstract

We present a contribution to the knowledge of marine and brackish water alien species (infraspecific taxa included) recorded along the Italian coasts. The Italian Peninsula, with over 7,000 km of coastline, is located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, splitting the Western and the Eastern basins. Data were collected from published material, mostly authored by the experts of different marine taxa participating in the “Allochthonous Species Group” of the Italian Society of Marine Biology (SIBM). The data have been reviewed according to the taxonomic expertise of the authors and are organized in a referenced database containing information on each species about: distribution along Italian coasts, the native range, most probable vectors of introduction, population status and impact. The total number of marine alien species recorded along Italian coasts during the selected time period 1945–2009 is relatively high: 165 species, in many cases native from tropical regions of the world. Most of them were introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, whereas in the last few years the number of new records has decreased. The highest number of alien species has been observed in the northern Adriatic Sea, particularly in the Lagoon of Venice, which is the main hotspot of introduction. Of the total number of species, 46% was unable to establish resident populations in the Italian seas; 15% (24 species) rapidly increased their populations and extended their geographical range, consequently they may be considered invasive species.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-010-9856-y