Colonization on Pinna nobilis at a marine protected area: extent of the spread of two invasive seaweeds.
Introduction of species is a major driver of global change and loss of biodiversity in ecosystems. The Mediterranean Sea is the most heavily invaded region in the world by introduced seaweeds. The fan mussel Pinna nobilis is the largest Mediterranean bivalve, and a protected species, present at depths from 0.5 m to 60 m. In Cabrera National Park marine protected area (MPA) (Balearic Islands, north-western Mediterranean) the population of P. nobilis is affected by the invasive seaweeds Lophocladia lallemandii and Caulerpa racemosa; however the extent of this colonization on the bivalve is unknown. Therefore, the main aims of the present study were to: (1) determine the extent of invasion of L. lallemandii and C. racemosa on the P. nobilis population; and (2) test if this invasion showed differences with depth. This is the first study assessing invasion by seaweeds on a large bivalve in a high density P. nobilis population. Pinna nobilis was distributed in all seagrass meadows surveyed within the MPA; we found a total of 872 live P. nobilis individuals, 449 and 423 of which were found at 10 and 20 m depth, respectively. High cover of L. lallemandii and low presence of C. racemosa were detected in the P. nobilis population, being quantified in 49.37% and 1.38% of the population of P. nobilis, respectively. Bathymetric differences on Lophocladia epizoism over P. nobilis has been recorded in this study; with increasing values of L. lallemandii cover index, biomass and volume at deeper depths. Pinna nobilis could be a preferential substratum for L. lallemandii in Posidonia oceanica meadows in deeper waters, acting as a stepping-stone for invasive seaweeds and facilitating the invasion throughout seagrass meadows.