A Sea Change — Exotics in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea
The eastern Mediterranean is susceptible to biological invasions because of its placement between the Atlantic, Pontic and Erythrean regions, busy maritime traffic, and lagoons and bays that are crowded with fish and shellfish farms. However, the greatest influx of invaders resulted from the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which allowed entry of Indo-Pacific and Erythrean biota. Exotic macrophytes, invertebrates and fish are found in most coastal habitats in the eastern Mediterranean. Some invaders have outcompeted or replaced native species locally, some are considered pests or cause nuisance, whereas other invaders are of commercial value. However, at variance with other invaded seas, the invasion into the eastern Mediterranean has increased the region’s biodiversity. The rate of marine biotic invasions has increased in recent decades; collectively they have significant ecological and economic impacts in the eastern Mediterranean. Some Erythrean invaders have already spread as far west as Malta and Sicily, and if global warming was to affect the Mediterranean sea-water temperature, then tropical invasive species would gain a distinct advantage over the native fauna.
KeywordsSuez Canal Ballast Tank Levantine Basin Shellfish Farm Suez Rift
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