The first records of Indo-Pacific sergeant Abudefduf vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825) and further notes on the occurrence of sergeant major A. saxatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Malta: expanding populations of an invasive genus in the Mediterranean Sea

The first records of Indo-Pacific sergeant Abudefduf vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825) and further notes on the occurrence of sergeant major A. saxatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Malta: expanding populations of an invasive genus in the Mediterranean Sea

Adriana Vella, Sandra Agius Darmanin, Noel Vella  

Conservation Biology Research Group, Department of Biology, University of Malta, Msida MSD2080, MALTA

Abstract

Morphometric, meristic analyses and genetic barcoding of Abudefduf spp. specimens collected from Maltese waters have led to the confirmation of the Indo-Pacific sergeant, A. vaigiensis (Quoy and Gaimard, 1825), in the central Mediterranean Sea. Though A. vaigiensis was first visually spotted in April 2013, the first specimen was caught in September 2013 from the Valletta Grand Harbour. Additional specimens were subsequently collected, with some showing morphological signs of reproductive activity indicating the establishment of a growing population.During the same study, observations on the occurrence of the sergeant major, A. saxatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) were also noted revealing that both species are co-existing in the same area and are expanding their geographical range along the Maltese coast. These findings direct toward sustained research and monitoring efforts on these new invasive species which may rapidly influence local coastal communities.