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Alien seaweeds from the Levant basin (Eastern Mediterranean Sea), with emphasis to the Israeli shores

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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

ABSTRACTThe link of the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian and Pacific Oceans was artificially created with the opening of the first Suez Canal in 1897, and the second in 2015, allowing the direct passage of marine organisms into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. About 307 macroalgae (seaweeds) exist in the Israeli Mediterranean shores. The current study lists marine macroalgae within the Levant basin described after the year 1900, with special focus on species from Israeli shores. We identified 86 species for the whole Levant area regarded as exotic, namely, introduced by artificial vectors derived from human activities, including arrivals via the Suez Canal (Lessepsian invasion). Of those 86 species, 42 are Rhodophyta, 23 are Chlorophyta and 21 are Ochrophyta. Further, about 68% are of Indo-Pacific origin, 20% of Atlantic origin, with 12% of the species of uncertain origin. With precaution, we suggest that about 16% of the marine flora in the Israeli Mediterranean shores are of exotic nature. This survey also indicates that about half of the exotic Ochrophyta are of Atlantic origin, while there are no reports of Chlorophyta of Atlantic origin in the Levant basin. Key aspects when evaluating the exotic nature of marine macroalgae are the trustworthiness of past taxonomic identification and long-term records and description of seaweed collections, both particularly troublesome for the Levant basin.

Affiliations: 1: Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research, The National Institute of Oceanography ; 2: Blue Ecosystems


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