Biological Invasion The Thau Lagoon a Japanese Biological Island in the Mediterranean

Charles-Frangois Boudouresque, Judith Klein, Sandrine Ruitton, and Marc Verlaque

Abstract Shellfish aquaculture represents one of the major vectors of marine macrophyte introductions. In the 1970s through at least the 1990s, massive imports of Japanese oysters, Crassostrea gigas, from the Pacific (mainly from Japan) to Europe were carried out. As a result, a large number of exotic species have been introduced to European shores. In the Mediterranean Sea, the Thau Lagoon (south-western France) has become a hot-spot of introduction of marine macrophytes. A total of 58 species of macrophytes have been labeled as introduced. They currently represent 32% of the species diversity and 48-99% of the macrophyte biomass on hard substrates. Most of them are native to the northwestern Pacific, including Japan. These figures do not take into account cryptogenic and cryptic introduced species and could therefore prove to be underestimates. The Thau Lagoon could therefore be the harbinger of the next century globalized world ocean.

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