Engagement of fishers in citizen science enhances the knowledge on alien decapods in Cyprus (eastern Mediterranean Sea)
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The eastern Mediterranean Sea is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the introduction and spread of alien species through the Suez Canal. Early detection and distribution monitoring of these species has been recently facilitated using social media and citizen science. The project “Is it Alien to you? Share it!!!” recorded over 840 observations for about 100 marine species in Cyprus (eastern Mediterranean Sea) primarily via a dedicated social network group. Through the utilization of morphological and molecular approaches on materials posted by a local fisher, this study provides the first records of Ixa monodi and Myra subgranulata in Cyprus and additional records of Macrophthalmus indicus for the island. These sightings confirm the effectiveness of citizen science in monitoring species distribution shifts. The cooperation of scientists with fishers has the potential to enhance surveillance, while concurrently increase awareness and position citizens as conservation leaders.
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