Hotspots status assessment in marine Mediterranean fauna
Vogler supervised by Prof. Gert Wörheide
University of Göttingen, Department of Geobiology and Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology
The introduction of non-indigenous species (NIS) by anthropogenic activities threatens natural ecosystems worldwide, its consequences apparent at both ecological and economic levels. The impact of NIS to marine biodiversity has received little attention compared to terrestrial ecosystems. My project aims to assess the threat posed by marine NIS to native invertebrate communities of the Mediterranean Sea. Constituting an area of less than 1% of the world's oceans, it contains more than 6% of all marine species, and is composed of more than 25% endemic species. However, as a hub of steadily increasing commercial shipping, and encircled by major ports, it is extremely susceptible to the introduction of ship-borne organisms, which has been ongoing since the 15th century. Nowadays, one of the main vectors of NIS is ballast water, indiscriminately transferring a diverse assemblage of organisms across oceans. After sampling invertebrate communities in major European ports and their surrounding coastal habitats, DNA barcoding technologies will allow me to elucidate the structure of these communities, establishing phylogeographical relationships and identifying invasive species. This data will help to determine the severity of the extinction process at the level of populations, species and coastal marine ecosystems, ultimately allowing conservation priorities to be established.