Since the beginning of the fall of 2016, a wave of mass mortality is devastating the populations of species emblematic and endemic of the Mediterranean sea, as molluscum nacra (Pinna nobilis) which can grow up to heights of over a metre.
The most likely cause that places one of the bivalves of the world's largest to the brink of extinction is a endoparásito recently described, the Haplosporidium.
Now, a study that has involved researchers from the Higher Council of Scientific Research (CSIC) has tracked down the spread of disease , gathering information provided by citizens on the web, Observers of the sea. The results are published in the journal Scientific Reports.
"Everything seems to indicate that the parasite is distributed following the surface currents and its virulence appears to be associated with temperatures above 13.5 ° C , and with a range of salinity between 36,5-at 39.7 psu (practical salinity units)", explains Iris Hendriks, a researcher at the CSIC at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), who led the study.
"These results suggest a daunting scenario for the conservation of this iconic species , since-as have ventured the models of this research, the infection has spread throughout the Mediterranean," adds the researcher. "It is crucial to continue to receive observations on the progress of the mortality in the eastern basin, where we have the least information," he adds.
"Only to the areas in which the variables are kept away from the optimal conditions for awakening the virulence of the parasite Haplosporidium (for example, the mouth of the Ebro river or the enclosed lagoon of the mar Menor ) welcome-living individuals, although we're not sure if they are free of the disease, which may not be manifested by not find environmental conditions suitable," indicates Hendriks.
"Since the first news of this ecological disaster , the scientific community has focused all its efforts on to elucidate and to understand how it works in the parasite. But the rapid and widespread extension of infection has made a fundamental intervention of the citizens", says Hendriks.
"Thanks to the combination of observations citizens -in which reported the infection of the bivalve- with the monitoring scientists has been able to track and understand how and under what conditions acts this deadly parasite. These observations (alive/dead) have been included in models derived to investigate its regional distribution in the west basin of mediterranean and compared with environmental variables to observe the potential effect of the environment on the virulence of the parasite", concludes the researcher.Updated Date: 26 September 2019, 13:01