Size structure and dynamics of an invasive population of lineage 2 of Asparagopsis taxiformis (Florideophyceae) in the Alboran Sea.
In this study, we present basic population data of the red macroalga Asparagopsis taxiformis, widely recognized as invasive in the Mediterranean Sea. A 13-month field study was carried out on a population located in southern Spain, addressing its phenology, population dynamics and demography. We further tested whether biomass variations were related to environmental variables at the study site. Gametophytes were present year-round while tetrasporophytes were only found in spring and summer. Recruitment capacity and vegetative growth of the gametophytes are discussed as important modulators for the population structure and enhancers of its persistence. Thallus size-time histograms revealed a high prevalence of small shoots that showed high mortality that was not related to self-thinning. Biomass of A. taxiformis was higher from March to July. Vegetative growth was the main way the gametophyte population was maintained, although the presence of tetrasporophytes and fertile gametophytes in the field confirms that sexual reproduction also occurs. Its continuous and high recruitment, in terms of the number of smallest shoots, makes this southern population of A. taxiformis a source of future invasive populations due to the intensive maritime traffic in the region.