The tropicalization of the Mediterranean Sea as a miniaturized model for oceans worldwide

Dr Jordi Boada1, Dr Teresa Alcoverro2, Dr  Rohan Arthur3, Dr Enric Ballesteros2, Dr Scott Bennett4, Xavier  Buñuel2, Dr Emma Cebrian9, Dr Rafel  Coma2, Dr Joaquim Garrabou5, Dr Bernat Hereu1, Dr Paul Lavery6, Dr Gabriel Jordà4, Dr Cristina Linares1, Dr Scott Ling8, Dr Núria Marbà4, Yaiza Ontoria1, Jordi Pagès1, Albert Pessarrodona7, Dr Javier Romero1, Neus Sanmartí1, Dr Julia Santana-Garcon4, Dr Eduard Serrano2, Jana Verdura9, Dr Adriana Vergés10

1University Of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes, Blanes, Spain, 3Nature Conservation Foundation, , India, 4Institute for Mediterranean Advanced Studies, Esporles, Spain, 5Institute of Marine Sciences, Barcelona, Spain, 6Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, 7University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 8Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Australia, 9University of Girona, Girona, Spain, 10University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


The whole planet’s oceans are currently suffering the effects of tropicalization. Marine species change their ranges of distribution moving poleward in reaction to the sustained increase in seawater temperature. In their new areas, species are involved in generating novel interactions with autochthonous species. The magnitude of the impact of non-native species on temperate ecosystems varies tremendously depending on the local conditions of the recipient area. Abiotic environmental regimes, currents, and biotic conditions determine the success of invaders settling in new areas, ultimately influencing their overall resilience to the process of tropicalization. The tropicalization of the Mediterranean started in the late sixties facilitated by the aperture of the Suez Canal when several so called lessepsian species. Here, we revise the effect of tropical species on different ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea (including intertidal and subtidal rocky reefs, seagrasses and sandy substrates). We link the tropicalization capacity to the biotic and abiotic conditions of this miniaturized ocean to propose it as case study of the socio-ecological impacts of this phenomena for other regions in the world.


I defended my PhD in April 2016, identifying the critical ecological processes determining the distribution and effect of a dominant herbivore in the Mediterranean. I rapidly became particularly interested in the use of multiple approaches to conceptualizing general principles in ecology and specifically in ecosystem state transitions. I recognize the need to mix different approaches including theoretical development and real-world experiments and genetics to make advance in general ecology.

Species on the Move

An International Conference Series

The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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