Table_3_Reconstructing Bioinvasion Dynamics Through Micropaleontologic Analysis Highlights the Role of Temperature Change as a Driver of Alien Foraminifera Invasion.XLSX
Invasive alien species threaten biodiversity and ecosystem structure and functioning, but incomplete assessments of their origins and temporal trends impair our ability to understand the relative importance of different factors driving invasion success. Continuous time-series are needed to assess invasion dynamics, but such data are usually difficult to obtain, especially in the case of small-sized taxa that may remain undetected for several decades. In this study, we show how micropaleontologic analysis of sedimentary cores coupled with radiometric dating can be used to date the first arrival and to reconstruct temporal trends of foraminiferal species, focusing on the alien Amphistegina lobifera and its cryptogenic congener A. lessonii in the Maltese Islands. Our results show that the two species had reached the Central Mediterranean Sea several decades earlier than reported in the literature, with considerable implications for all previous hypotheses of their spreading patterns and rates. By relating the population dynamics of the two foraminifera with trends in sea surface temperature, we document a strong relationship between sea warming and population outbreaks of both species. We conclude that the micropaleontologic approach is a reliable procedure for reconstructing the bioinvasion dynamics of taxa having mineralized remains, and can be added to the toolkit for studying invasions.