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Biodiversity Journal, 2016, 7 (4): 907–912

The Project “Caulerpa cylindracea in the Egadi Islands”: citi-
zens and scientists working together to monitor marine alien

Anna Maria Mannino1*, Stefano Donati2 & Paolo Balistreri1, 2

1Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, Section of Botany and Plant Ecology, Uni-
versity of Palermo, 90123 Palermo, Italy
2Egadi Islands MPA, Piazza Europa 3, 91023 Favignana, Italy
*Corresponding author, e-mail:

ABSTRACT   The creation of early-warning systems is crucial for preventing and reducing the risk of in-
           vasive species introduction. In this respect, the contribution of citizen-scientists (tourists, stu-
           dents, teachers, divers and fishermen) in providing information and data (validated by
           taxonomic experts) on the occurrence of marine invasive species that would otherwise be im-
           possible to collect, is crucial in understanding the phenomenon of biological invasions. The
           Citizen Science Project “Caulerpa cylindracea - Egadi Islands”, launched in 2014 and ended
           in 2016, aimed at creating a database on the spread dynamics and the levels of threat of the
           invasive green alga Caulerpa cylindracea within the Egadi Islands Marine Protected Area
           (MPA). The Project registered numerous followers and different groups of volunteers (stu-
           dents, tourists, divers, underwater photographers, amateurs and fishermen) were involved. In
           all 156 sightings (18 Divers, 9 Researchers, 91 Citizens, 38 Scientific Team) were collected.
           The alga was reported from all the three main Islands even though the majority of the records
           were from Favignana Island. Useful information on the behaviour strategies of the alga was
           also gathered.

KEY WORDS  Caulerpa cylindracea; Citizen Science; Invasive species; Egadi Islands Marine Protected Area.

Received 11.11.2016; accepted 14.12.2016; printed 30.12.2016

INTRODUCTION                                           species have been listed as possible aliens in the
                                                       Mediterranean Sea (Verlaque et al., 2015).
    Marine alien species, considered one of the most
serious threats to biodiversity (Bax et al., 2003;         According to the report on Alien Species in
Wallentinus & Nyberg, 2007), currently raise se-       Italian Seas (updated in 2016) compiled by the
rious concerns in the scientific community. The        SIBM Allochthonous Species Group (ASG), a
Mediterranean Sea, an important hotspot for alien      relatively high number of alien macrophytes (55)
species (about 1,000), is one of the major areas       was reported along the Italian coasts (GSA-SIBM,
severely affected by marine invasions (Coll et al.,    2016). Sicily and its surrounding islands, as con-
2010; Lejeusne et al., 2010; Zenetos et al., 2012;     sequence of their geographic position and the
Galil et al., 2015). As far as marine macrophytes are  intense maritime traffic, including that related to
concerned, a total of one hundred and thirty three     fisheries and recreation (Occhipinti-Ambrogi et al.,
                                                       2011a, b; Katsanevakis et al., 2014) that foster the
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