The aim of this paper was to document the appearance and spread of the green alga Caulerpa racemosa along the coast of Murcia in south-eastern Spain. It was found for the first time in the area in 2005 and over the next two years the number of new sightings increased almost exponentially. In the period 2005-2007 the total surface area colonised by the alga in the region was estimated to be at least 265 ha. Benthic assemblages colonised by the alga were rocky bottoms with photophilic algae, dead P. oceanica rhizomes, infralittoral and circalittoral soft bottoms and maerl beds. No penetration of the alga was observed in P. oceanica meadows, except in one locality. Biometric analysis indicated high vegetative development in the established colonies in comparison to those described in other Mediterranean areas. Rapid spreading dynamics observed in the Murcia region is a potential threat for native benthic communities.
Biological invasions, Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea, Colonised surface area, Distribution, Mediterranean Sea, Spain
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