A review on the animal xenodiversity in Sicilian inland waters (Italy)

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Federico Marrone *
Luigi Naselli-Flores
(*) Corresponding Author:
Federico Marrone | federico.marrone@unipa.it

Abstract

This paper reviews the available knowledge about faunal xenodiversity in Sicilian inland waters (Italy). The aim is to provide an updated checklist and bibliography of those non-indigenous species (NIS) which occur in the island, and to identify possible threats to its native biological diversity. Data were collected through an extensive literature search which encompassed also local journals, books, congress abstracts, and other grey literature. All the collected data were critically revised and, when possible, verified by consulting available collections or through dedicated sampling surveys. Only those data contained in reports indicating precise occurrence localities, which were confirmed by our own observations and\or by at least two independent sources including at least a peer-reviewed publication, were considered as certain. Data in literature that did not meet these criteria were considered doubtful and reported separately as unverified. The information provided by websites has been excluded as it often contains unfounded and\or erroneous data. The fauna of Sicilian inland waters host at present 31 confirmed NIS. In addition, the presence of further 11 taxa is dubious. Among the verified data, invertebrate and vertebrate taxa are nearly equally represented, with 15 and 16 taxa, respectively. With 16 species, the phylum Chordata is by far the most represented, followed by Mollusca (8 species) and Arthropoda (6 species). Most of these species were detected in the last 30 years due to the lack of previous regular studies on Sicilian freshwaters. With few exceptions (e.g., the recent introduction of Xenopus laevis, the African clawed frog), NIS’ effects on native biota have not extensively studied in the island yet. Although the top-down effects caused by introduced vertebrate taxa are known to deeply modify the native structure of the biota, little information is available on the impacts caused by invertebrate taxa, especially the microscopic ones. The presence in Sicily of 11 nonnative species of bony fish is probably the most impacting threat to autochthonous fauna through predation, competition and hybridisation. The results shown in the paper highlight the importance and the urgency of more exhaustive investigations on NIS in Sicilian freshwaters with special regard to less charismatic taxa whose effects on the native biota have never been evaluated yet.

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Author Biographies

Federico Marrone, University of Palermo

Researcher (RU) at the department STEBICEF of the University of Palermo

Luigi Naselli-Flores, University of Palermo

Associate professor (PA) at the department STEBICEF of the University of Palermo