204 research outputs found

    Far from home....the first documented capture of the genus Elops (Actinopterygii, Elopidae) from the Mediterranean

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    The tenpounder fish genus Elops Linnaeus, 1766 was recorded for the first time from the Mediterranean in October 2019, as a single individual was caught in Maltese waters. The genus has a disparate global distribution consisting of west Atlantic and west Pacific tropical and sub-tropical areas. A single individual was caught, but not retained, during artificial lighting-assisted purse seining, and the identification of the genus was determined based upon photographs submitted by the fisherman. The mechanisms of range expansion of the genus from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean are discussed.peer-reviewe

    A miniature ocean the toll of climate change in the Med

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    Dr Alan Deidun discusses the idea that the welfare of the Mediterranean Sea’s biota can be seen as a sensitive climate change indicator.peer-reviewe

    A collection of recent ctenophore sightings from the Maltese Islands

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    The only ctenophore reports from Maltese coastal waters ever published date back to over 40 years ago, with only two comb jelly species being previously recorded from such waters. A collection of recent ctenophore sightings from Maltese coastal waters, all substantiated through underwater photography or video footage and pertaining to Leucothea multicornis, Beroe cucumis and Beroe forskalii, is hereby reported. These sightings were submitted by members of the public as part of the citizen science initiative known as „Spot the Jellyfish‟.peer-reviewe

    Notes on the recent occurrence of uncommon pelagic “jellyfish” species in Maltese coastal waters

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    There is a dearth of published works on sightings of uncommon pelagic jellyfish species within Maltese coastal waters, with a handful of disparate published reports and with most other existing relevant information being carried in newspapers and other grey literature portals. This study seeks to address such a dearth by compiling the confirmed (through specimen collection in most cases, or simply through photography in some cases) sightings for the hydrozoans Porpita porpita, Velella velella, Olindias phosphorica, Physalia physalis and Aequorea sp. made within Maltese coastal waters during the August 2009-August 2010 period.peer-reviewe

    Challenges to the conservation of biodiversity on small islands : the case of the Maltese Islands

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    The conservation of biodiversity on small islands is fraught with challenges, most of which do not apply to mainland areas, and which are borne of characteristics unique to islands. These include a disproportionate coastal extent, anomalously high rates of endemicity and species richness, high degrees of genetic distinctiveness exhibited by biota as a result of their physical isolation. This is coupled to a high degree of anthropogenic disturbance facing island biota and to the high economic importance of coastal-based tourism on islands. This combination in turn translates in a pronounced fraction of island biota being considered as endangered and in islands being considered as biodiversity priorities. The Maltese Islands are located in the Mediterranean Basin, which in itself is already considered as a biodiversity hotspot, and present a case study of intense anthropogenic impacts on a rich biodiversity.peer-reviewe

    Population ecology of Phaleria acuminata (Coleoptera : Tenebrionidae) from sandy beaches in the Maltese Islands

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    Populations of the beetle Phaleria acuminata fromfour beaches on the Maltese Islands were sampled for six consecutive seasons to investigate changes in population size, sex ratio, reproductive state and distribution on the shore. The populations on all the beaches showed a small decrease in numbers from spring to summer and a pronounced drop from summer to autumn, with a dramatic increase between winter and spring. Male to female sex ratio varied between 1:1 and 1:1.5. Females of all reproductive stages occurred throughout the year. There were little seasonal differences in distribution of beetles in the wet and dry zones.peer-reviewe

    Automatic parametrisation of beached microplastics

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    Four sandy beaches on the island of Malta were regularly sampled for Large MicroPlastic (LMP) particles having a diameter between 1mm and 5mm, at stations located at the waterline, and 10m inshore. The extracted LMPs were characterised (dimensions, surface roughness, colour) by microscopic analyses, as well as by a developed algorithm. Two-thirds of the isolated particles were smooth and the majority of these belonged to the grey -white colour category suggesting that these were preproduction pellets. Roughly six times as many particles were recorded within the inshore sampling stations as the particles recorded at the waterline stations. The automated image processing algorithm performed well when the dimension and colour parameter values it delivered were compared with those obtained by microscopic analyses.peer-reviewe

    Small islands as ecotourism destinations : a Central Mediterranean perspective

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    A prerequisite for ecotourism development is the presence of natural environments, normally exhibited in protected areas, which serve as ecotourism venues. Little attention has been given to Mediterranean islands in terms of ecotourism. In this paper, nine islands in the central Mediterranean region were studied through a case study approach to investigate their potential as ecotourism destinations, taking into account the presence of protected areas and related aspects, including spatial dimensions and quality, to fulfil ecotourists. Larger islands with higher population densities were found to experience habitat fragmentation, and protected areas were thus in some cases relatively small and dispersed. In contrast, smaller, less populated islands were found to be more ideal ecotourism destinations due to limited anthropogenic impact and their capacity to fulfil the expectations of the ‘true specialists’, also known as ‘hard ecotourists’. Quality of ecotourism venues was found to affect ecotourist satisfaction. Ideal ecotourism sites on heavily impacted islands were found on the island periphery, in coastal and marine locations, with marine ecotourism serving as the ideal ecotourism product on such islands.peer-reviewe

    First record of Abudefduf cfr saxatilis Linnaeus, 1758 (Perciformes : Pomacentridae) from the Maltese Islands (Central Mediterranean)

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    The first sighting of Abudefduf individuals from Maltese (Central Mediterranean) coastal waters is reported. The individuals (6-7) were photographed in the field but were not collected. The pattern of body colouration of these individuals is consistent with that reported by most previous authors for A. saxatilis, marking the first record of this Atlantic species from Maltese waters.peer-reviewe

    Rocky shore biotic assemblages of the Maltese Islands (Central Mediterranean) : a conservation perspective

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    Limestone rocky shores constitute ca 90.5% of the 272km coastline of the Maltese islands. Only some 40% of this rocky coastline is gently sloping and easily accessible. Such shores are heavily impacted with 96% of the accessible coastline dominated by tourist-related or by maritime activities. We characterized the biotic assemblages of lowland Maltese rocky shores and tested the popularly held view that given the scarce variation in physical characteristics, such shores form a homogenous habitat. Belt transects were laid perpendicular to the shoreline from biological zero to the adlittoral zone on seven Coralline Limestone and one Globigerina Limestone shores. Cover (for algae and encrusting species) or population density (for animals except sponges) were estimated using 0.5m X 0.05m quadrats placed contiguously for the first few metres and then at regularly spaced intervals. Overall, 19 faunal and 47 floral species, and 10 faunal and 8 floral species were recorded from the Coralline and Globigerina transects respectively, with 60.8% faunal and 25.6% floral species common to the two substrata. Hierarchical clustering showed that the Coralline and Globigerina transects harboured distinct biotic assemblages and identified an upper shore assemblage dominated by the littorinid Melarhaphe neritoides and barnacles, and a lower shore assemblage dominated by algae and molluscs; a mid-shore transition zone where certain species from both assemblages reached peaks of abundance was present in almost all Coralline and the majority of Globigerina transects. Differences in biota between the two types of shore are most likely primarily related to differences in microtopography and, to a lesser degree, to exposure. It is concluded that in spite of gross physical similarity, Maltese lowland rocky shores are biotically inhomogeneous, making conservation of individual sites much more important than previously thought.peer-reviewe
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