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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

The population of Pinna nobilis in the Mar Menor coastal lagoon: a story of colonization and uncertainty

F. Giménez-Casalduero, F. Gomariz-Castillo*, F. Alonso-Sarría, E. Cortés, A. Izquierdo-Muñoz, A. A. Ramos-Esplá

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The Mediterranean fan mussel Pinna nobilis populations have progressively fallen during the last decades as a result of economic activities. The threat has, however, become particularly severe since 2016, concurrent with a mass mortality event triggered by the parasite Haplosporidium pinnae, and evidence exists that Mycobacterium species may play a major role in the event. Indeed, the epidemic has spread throughout the Mediterranean, although coastal lagoons seem to offer a degree of ‘resistance’ against the parasite. In the early 1980s, P. nobilis appeared in the Mar Menor lagoon and rapidly became an important component of the benthos. However, the fan mussel colonizing process in the lagoon was cut short in 2016 when a massive mortality occurred, possibly as a consequence of the environmental collapse that occurred in the lagoon, parallel to the mortality that the species suffered in the Mediterranean that same year. In this study, the spatial distribution of P. nobilis in the Mar Menor is estimated for 3 periods: 2003–2004, 2013, and 2016. The first 2 periods use published data, and the last period uses data collected in a new campaign. The probability of occurrence for the 3 periods was estimated using random forest and random forest regression-kriging models. The main environmental variables that determined the dispersion and colonization of the bivalve in the lagoon before 2016 are also identified.