The invasion of alien species has had the consequence that the whole food chain is changing, while there is a lack of knowledge on which to base relevant risk assessments, a four-year study conducted at the University of Gothenburg shows.
“The Mediterranean is the world's most invaded sea, but our understanding of how alien species affect ecosystems is inhibited by a lack of basic knowledge of the animal and plant communities on the coast. Once species have become established in the Mediterranean it is almost impossible to eradicate them,” says Stefan Kalogirou of the Department of Marine Ecology at the University of Gothenburg.
When the Suez Canal was completed in 1869, a corridor was created for the spread of alien species to the Mediterranean Sea, which is now undergoing great changes in animal and plant communities. In recent years, regular reports of alien species from several of the coastal environments of the eastern Mediterranean have caused concern over what will happen to indigenous species and ecosystems.
Over a period of four years Kalogirou, in cooperation with the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, has studied the structure and function of fish communities in sea-grass meadows and on sandy bottoms in two important coastal environments on the island of Rhodes in south-eastern Greece. This has provided important insights into invasion biology, that is to say possible ecological consequences of alien species in the food chain.
“The results show a clear ecological impact when alien species either become dominant, like pufferfish, or are piscivores, like barracuda and cornetfish. It is evident that the food chain is being restructured, but the lack of previous studies limited our conclusions.”
The poisonous pufferfish is one of the alien species that have recently been introduced. The pufferfish toxin, tetrodotoxin, causes muscle paralysis, which can lead to respiratory arrest. In the worst case the outcome can be fatal. In the coastal environments that Kalogirou has studied, the pufferfish has become a dominant species, which has led to both ecological and social effects.
“There does seem to be an awareness at the European level of how quickly species spread into new areas, but there is a lack of basic knowledge of monitoring methodology, specific life characteristics of alien species and risk assessments. The impact of alien species, known as biological contamination, is something that must be taken into account in environmental impact assessments,”Kaligirou notes.u
The thesis Alien Fish Species in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: Invasion Biology in Coastal Ecosystems was successfully defended.Contact:
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine