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Ascidian biodiversity in the shallow waters of the Madeira Archipelago: Fouling studies on artificial substrates and new records

Highlights•Ascidian biodiversity colonizing artificial substrates in the Madeira Archipelago.•Comprehensive literature search and Museum collection data for both artificial and natural substrates.•List of 39 ascidian species colonizing both artificial and natural substrates.•Temporal and spatial variability on the recruitment and succession of ascidian assemblages were investigated.•New substrates are the main drivers of non-indigenous ascidian species (NIS) success in the region.AbstractAscidians are recognized as major invaders on a global scale, found from the poles to the tropics and from shallow to deep sea waters with approximately 3000 known described species worldwide. However, to date only a few opportunistic studies focusing on the ascidian diversity colonizing natural and artificial substrates have been conducted in the Madeira Archipelago (NE Atlantic). Furthermore, little is known about the community composition and distribution of native and non-indigenous ascidians in the islands of the archipelago. In this context, we conducted a 3-phase study that allowed us to report an updated list of ascidian records found on artificial substrates in the Madeira Archipelago. First, to assess ascidian biodiversity colonizing artificial substrates present in the Madeira Archipelago, we conducted standardized monitoring campaigns in four marinas and hull vessel surveys during dry dock inspections. Second, we complemented this inventory with a comprehensive literature search and Museum collection focused on ascidians colonizing both artificial and natural substrates. Third, we investigated the temporal and spatial variability on the recruitment and succession of young vs mature ascidian assemblages. We found 24 ascidian species in all four marinas, from which 13 are NIS and 11 are new records for Madeira Archipelago. In addition, a literature survey found a total of 27 ascidians occurring on both artificial and natural substrates. This study now reveals a total of 39 ascidian species colonizing both artificial and natural substrates and comprises the most up-to-date list for all shallow-water ascidians in the Madeira Archipelago. A total of 15 NIS are now currently known, 9 exclusively from Madeira Island, 1 exclusively from Porto Santo Island and 5 on the two main islands of the archipelago. This study also shows that the spatial and temporal variability of fouling ascidian assemblages are driven by recruitment and succession of NIS rather than by presence of native species. Finally, total ascidian richness and cover was significantly higher in 4-month-old communities than in 8 to 16-month-old communities across all marinas, suggesting that “bare” artificial substrates are the main drivers of NIS success in the region.Graphical abstractDownload : Download high-res image (259KB)Download : Download full-size image

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