Spreading factors of a globally invading coastal copepod
MAZZOCCHI, M. G.
The Mediterranean Sea is one of the areas most affected by alien invasions, which are continuously increasing also due to intense human activities and environmental changes that favor the introduction of species previously unable to colonize the basin. This is the case of the copepods of the genus Pseudodiaptomus, first described in the Indian Ocean and considered one of the most resistant to unfavorable conditions but never recorded in the Mediterranean until 2011 though present in adjacent seas. Pseudodiaptomus marinus, in particular, is common in shallow marine-brackish waters and is one of the species often found in ballast waters and in aquaculture plants. Native of Japan, it has started spreading since 1950s and its populations have established in several harbours, eutrophic inlets and lagoons along the coasts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In the last few years, P. marinus has been increasingly reported in European Seas (Mediterranean Sea and North Sea). In this paper, we review the invasion history of this species with a special emphasis on its records in the Mediterranean Sea, and its occurrence and establishment in Sicilian waters. We also compare the biological traits and population dynamics of P. marinus with those of other representative of the genus and discuss about the possible mechanisms of introduction in new environments. Aim of our work is to understand the reasons of successful invasion of P. marinus and the environmental and biological factors that may lead to its further biogeographic expansion.