Title: Establishment of a Monitoring Network and a web-based platform of Non Indigenous Species in Major Ports of Greece
Funding Source: HFRI (ΕΛΙΔΕΚ)
Budget IMBBC: 140,000€
Start / End Date: 2018 - 2021
Web site URL: https://alienports.hcmr.gr
Project Progress: 100%
Ecology and ecosystem management
Great fundamental alterations to the Mediterranean Sea are underway. The increase of the sea temperature and pollution have identified as the most significant factors for species lost and habitats degradation. The opening of the Suez Canal introduced another severe impact in Mediterranean especially in shallow habitats. The non-indigenous species (NIS), which entered from the Red Sea to Mediterranean, affected the structure and the functioning of sea and consequent provision of goods and services. The majority of aliens in the eastern Mediterranean entered through the Suez Canal and the shipping activities. Today in Mediterranean almost 1,000 alien species have been reported, with the eastern basin being more prone to invasion than the western one. Among other ports are characterized as hot spot areas in terms of NIS. Since the rate of biological invasion in coastal aquatic ecosystems depends significantly on the volume of ship traffic to a region ports that enjoy a disproportionate share of global commerce are likely to be the most common sources and recipients of introduced species. Ports and small marinas act not only as gateways for alien species but also as reservoirs. They can produce a constant spillover of new invaders into surrounding areas and thereby contribute to their successful local establishment. The development of numerous marinas in many Mediterranean coastal areas in recent years could be providing a platform for the spread of invasives as these sites are closely associated with the dense vessels traffics (fishing or recreational boats or commercial ships) carrying alien species as hull fouling. Greece is in the geographic crossroad, thus playing a major role from many aspects since ancient times. Greek ports were the pathways of culture interactions, trading and transport routes and more recently some of the world’s top tourists transport infrastructures. Realizing the problem a number of directives and conventions has been proposed in order to control or eradicate alien species. In the same time a significant number of scientific papers has been published underline the impact of NIS.
Although, monitoring biodiversity in this changing ecosystem is of high scientific, management and policy interest, hence a common management plan for ports in terms of NIS is still missing. The AlienPort project will fill the current gaps about the taxonomy, distribution, functional traits and impact of NIS in port habitats by establishing a monitoring network across the main ports of Greece. This study will be one of the first, in Mediterranean, to: a) use a common sampling protocol focused on NIS, b) identify the alien species lists in the crucial ports of Greece, c) examine the competition of NIS with the native biota through the analysis of functional traits and d) propose common management plan and preventive activities. The above actions will assist to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of NIS on port benthic communities and control and limit the distribution of NIS in ports.