Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 469–480 | Cite as

Shallow-water bryozoans from the Azores (central North Atlantic): native vs. non-indigenous species, and a method to evaluate taxonomic uncertainty

  • Joana MicaelEmail author
  • Fernando Tempera
  • Björn Berning
  • Carlos M. López-Fé
  • Anna Occhipinti-Ambrogi
  • Ana Cristina Costa
Original Paper


Bryozoan records from the shores and upper shelf (≤50 m depth) of the remote Azores Archipelago (central North Atlantic) have been analyzed, along with unpublished data and data from recent surveys. A checklist of 67 shallow-water species is hereby compiled for the region, of which more than one third represent records from campaigns conducted during the last 20 years. A classification on the origin of the species indicates that the majority (62%) are cryptogenic while 27% (n = 18) are considered native. Given the natural limitations for genetic exchange between the archipelago’s bryozoan populations and those from neighboring shores, the taxa presently considered as cryptogenic may yield a considerable amount of endemic species after taxonomic revision. The remaining 11% are confirmed as non-indigenous species, highlighting the importance of human-mediated transport in considerably enhancing the diversity of bryozoans in remote oceanic archipelagos, which would otherwise be off-limits to their natural dispersal capacity. In view of the need to quantitatively evaluate the certainty of species-level identification when assembling such biodiversity inventories, we have developed a method to attribute a degree of certainty to species records. The application of this method to the current checklist highlights the importance of further studies to ascertain the identification of many species recorded for the Azores, and to be able to categorize them confidently as either native, cryptogenic or non-indigenous.


Bryozoa Checklist New records Azores Non-indigenous species Oceanic islands Taxonomic uncertainty 



Thanks are due to projects MARÉ (Life-Nature B4-3200/98/509), MAROV (PDCTM/P/MAR/15249/1999), POOC Costa N de São Miguel and Missões Bancos. IMAR-DOP/UAz is Research and Development Unit no. 531. LARSyS is Associated Laboratory no. 9. They are funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through PEst-OE/EEI/LA0009/2011-2014 (OE, COMPETE & QREN) and by the Azores Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) through funding schemes (RAA and Pro-Convergência).

This research is also part of project ‘Açores: Stopover for Marine Alien Species?’ – ASMAS - M2.1.2/I/032/2011 funded by the Direção Regional de Ciência e Tecnologia (DRCT). BB received the support from the SYNTHESYS Project (, which is financed by the European Community Research Infrastructure Action under the FP7 “Capacities” Program, and which allowed studying some of the type material at the MNHN (FR-TAF-1902, -5579). BB also profited from workshops held in the Azores, which were organized by Sérgio Ávila (Universidade dos Açores), and funded by the DRCT, FCT and the Câmara Municipal de Vila do Porto (Santa Maria). Acknowledgements are also due to the funding by FEDER through COMPETE ‘Operational Programme for Competitiveness Factors and to Portuguese National Funds received from FCT –Foundation for Science and Technology under the UID/BIA/50027/2013 and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006821.

Personal thanking notes are due to Jorge Fontes, Telmo Gomes, Pedro Afonso, Paulo Martins and Vítor Rosa for their hard work during the surveys. Ricardo Santos is acknowledged for the coordination of projects MARÉ and MAROV and for supporting the work on taxonomic groups poorly studied in the Azores. Peter Wirtz is thanked for the donation of samples. Aylin Ulman for the English revision of the text.

Supplementary material

12526_2017_833_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 23 kb).


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, InBIO Laboratório Associado, Pólo dos AçoresUniversidade dos AçoresPonta DelgadaPortugal
  2. 2.Bird Ecology Lab, Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y LimnológicasUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  3. 3.MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences CentreCentro do IMAR da Universidade dos AçoresHortaPortugal
  4. 4.IFREMER, Centre de Bretagne, DYNECO-LEBCOPlouzanéFrance
  5. 5.Upper Austrian State Museum, Geoscience CollectionsLeondingAustria
  6. 6.Laboratorio de Biología MarinaUniversidad de SevillaSevillaSpain
  7. 7.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

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