Original Paper

Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 1613-1621

First online:

Tracking the origin of the invading Caulerpa (Caulerpales, Chlorophyta) with Geographic Profiling, a criminological technique for a killer alga

  • Alessio PapiniAffiliated withDepartment of Evolutionary Biology, University of Florence Email author 
  • , Stefano MostiAffiliated withDepartment of Evolutionary Biology, University of Florence
  • , Ugo SantosuossoAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy, Histology and Legal Medicine

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The application of the Geographic Profiling technique (with the “Rossmo formula”) proved to be effective in assessing the spreading origin of invading species of Caulerpa in the Mediterranean. Geoprofiling is a technique more frequently used in criminology. We applied this method to an algal invasion for the first time. The method was calibrated with the distribution data of Caulerpa taxifolia, whose spreading in the Mediterranean Sea started from the aquarium of Monaco. This is the first time that Geographic Profiling is calibrated on a data set of sites of presence of a biological invader, of which the spreading origin is known. The application on Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea showed that the probable spreading center of the alga should be located in Western Sicily for the Mediterranean and in the southern part of Tenerife for the Canary Islands (Las Galletas, a fishing village). The spreading centers correspond to areas with ports, indicating that the spreading of this alga should be related to (fishing) boats. This result confirmed the opinion of other authors. The parameters used in the Rossmo Formula, obtained through calibration with the known origin of C. taxifolia invasion for identifying the origin of the spread of C. racemosa var. cylindracea may be extended to other algae with similar propagation mode and similar habitat requirements.


Algae Caulerpa Biological invasion Geographic Profiling Mediterranean Sea