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Observations of P. nobilis health conducted by citizens (yellow circles) vs. scientists (blue circles), with zoomed in areas where most observations were done :: Image: Authors

Miguel Cabanellas-Reboredo, Maite Vázquez-Luis, Baptiste Mourre, Elvira Álvarez, Salud Deudero, Ángel Amores, Piero Addis, Enric Ballesteros, Agustín Barrajón, Stefania Coppa, José Rafael García-March, Salvatore Giacobbe, Francisca Giménez Casalduero, Louis Hadjioannou, Santiago V. Jiménez-Gutiérrez, Stelios Katsanevakis, Diego Kersting, Vesna Mačić, Borut Mavrič, Francesco Paolo Patti, Serge Planes, Patricia Prado, Jordi Sánchez, José Tena-Medialdea, Jean de Vaugelas, Nardo Vicente, Fatima Zohra Belkhamssa, Ivan Zupan and Iris E . Hendriks, 2019. Tracking a mass mortality outbreak of pen shell Pinna nobilis populations: A collaborative effort of scientists and citizens. Scientific Reports (2019)9:13355. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-49808-4

Abstract: A mass mortality event is devastating the populations of the endemic bivalve Pinna nobilis in the Mediterranean Sea from early autumn 2016. A newly described Haplosporidian endoparasite (Haplosporidium pinnae) is the most probable cause of this ecological catastrophe placing one of the largest bivalves of the world on the brink of extinction. As a pivotal step towards Pinna nobilis conservation, this contribution combines scientists and citizens’ data to address the fast- and vastdispersion and prevalence outbreaks of the pathogen. Therefore, the potential role of currents on parasite expansion was addressed by means of drift simulations of virtual particles in a high-resolution regional currents model. A generalized additive model was implemented to test if environmental factors could modulate the infection of Pinna nobilis populations. The results strongly suggest that the parasite has probably dispersed regionally by surface currents, and that the disease expression seems to be closely related to temperatures above 13.5 °C and to a salinity range between 36.5–39.7 psu. The most likely spread of the disease along the Mediterranean basin associated with scattered survival spots and very few survivors (potentially resistant individuals), point to a challenging scenario for conservation of the emblematic Pinna nobilis, which will require fast and strategic management measures and should make use of the essential role citizen science projects can play.

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