Causes and Consequences of Lessepsian Fish Migration
Fish populations in the Mediterranean are faced with multiple stressors including overfishing, pollution, habitat loss and displacement by non-native species. The latter is of particular concern in the Eastern Mediterranean where a large migration of Red Sea species has followed the opening of the Suez Canal (Lessepsian migrants). Thus far, identifying the predictors of successful Lessepsian fish migration has proved challenging. It is also generally unknown how the large changes in this region have impacted the ecology of native species. This research will focus on understanding the causes of Lessepsian migration and its consequences for native Mediterranean fish species. Our work combines two complementary approaches to study the processes related to Lessepsian migration, focusing both on the impact of the species that have already established populations in the Mediterranean and on the traits that lead to a successful introduction. This combination should provide a powerful strategy for evaluating the ecological mechanisms behind this process. We plan to use local experimental manipulation of Lessepsian fish, coarse-grained data compilation and detailed state-of-the-art approaches to estimate specific species traits under a single conceptual framework. The results will provide critical information for the appreciation of the risks facing native Mediterranean fish populations, information which is necessary to mitigate these risks.