According to the entity, since it was detected in 2016 on the coasts of the Strait of Gibraltar, the brown algae species Rugulopteryx okamurae(Dictyotales, Ochrophyta), coming from the Asian coasts of the Pacific, is producing unprecedented environmental and socioeconomic impacts.
The University of Malaga points out that currently in Spain it is in the early stages of invasion, showing a high rate of dispersal and colonization of new areas from its area of introduction in the Strait of Gibraltar. The expansion poses a threat to the biodiversity and marine resources of the Spanish coastline, with special importance in protected marine areas.
This project seeks to support the management (prevention and control) of R. okamurae.The study identifies, through distribution modeling approaches and field studies, spatiotemporal windows of vulnerability to its invasion of Spanish marine protected areas and species, with special interest in those present in the Estrecho-Alborán and Levantino-Balearic demarcation, as well as providing an update on the status of the species in these areas. The project includes the transfer of the knowledge generated in the project to the management sector of these protected areas and the Public Administration, so that it can be applied in the prevention and early detection of R. okamurae for the conservation of the natural heritage. The approach to the objectives of this project is novel and may represent a model of study applied to the management of biological invasions.
The main objective of the project has been to support the management (prevention and control) of the invasive alga Rugulopteryx okamurae, by identifying spatiotemporal windows of vulnerability to invasion of protected marine areas and species.
Specific objectives include:
According to the entity, since its detection in 2016 on the coasts of the Strait of Gibraltar, the brown algae species Rugulopteryx okamurae(Dictyotales, Ochrophyta), from the Asian Pacific coasts, is spreading rapidly along the Spanish coasts, producing unprecedented environmental and socioeconomic impacts. This expansion poses a threat to the biodiversity and marine resources of the Spanish coastline, with special importance in protected marine areas.
The RUGULOPTERYX project has made it possible to determine its distribution in Spain.The aim is to support the management (prevention and control) of this species, identifying, through distribution modeling approaches and field studies, spatial-temporal windows of favorability to its invasion of Spanish marine protected areas, with special interest in those present in the Levantine-Balearic (LEBA) and Strait and Alboran (ESAL) demarcations.
Among the actions developed within the framework of the project, the following have been carried out distribution models for R. okamurae, using an updated database on the distribution of the species, which indicate the entire Spanish South Atlantic and Mediterranean coast as areas of high habitat favorability for the species, thus threatening existing threatened and protected areas and species.
The RUGULOPTERYX project has also identified eleven protected species that may be threatened by R. okamurae, such as the marine phanerogam species Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa and the algae species of the genera Gongolaria and Ericaria, ecosystem engineer species.
In addition, the results of this project conclude that more than half of the Spanish marine habitats are threatened by R. okamurae due to the high capacity of invasion and affection of this algae on native communities. The species Rugulopteryx okamurae also presents, different ways of propagationThese have been observed in greater abundance and frequency during the summer season, when, in addition, the highest biomass has also been recorded, making the summer season the period of greatest invasiveness of the species.
All the information generated in the project has been transferred to the affected administrations and sectors (mainly the fishing sector), by means of a conference open to the public and a publication of its contents in order to promote the prevention and early detection of R. okamurae for the conservation of the natural heritage.