• The arrival of a red invasive seaweed to a nutrient over-enriched estuary increases the spatial extent of macroalgal blooms

      Bermejo, Ricardo; MacMonagail, Michéal; Heesch, Svenja; Mendes, Ana; Edwards, Maeve; Fenton, Owen; Knöller, Kay; Daly, Eve; Morrison, Liam; Environmental Protection Agency; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
      The red seaweed Agarophyton vermiculophyllum is an invasive species native to the north-west Pacific, which has proliferated in temperate estuaries of Europe, North America and Africa. Combining molecular identification tools, historical satellite imagery and one-year seasonal monitoring of biomass and environmental conditions, the presence of A. vermiculophyllum was confirmed, and the invasion was assessed and reconstructed. The analysis of satellite imagery identified the first bloom in 2014 and revealed that A. vermiculophyllum is capable of thriving in areas, where native bloom-forming species cannot, increasing the size of blooms (ca. 10%). The high biomass found during the peak bloom (>2 kg m−2) and the observation of anoxic events indicated deleterious effects. The monitoring of environmental conditions and biomass variability suggests an essential role of light, temperature and phosphorous in bloom development. The introduction of this species could be considered a threat for local biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a global change context.