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Virtual pest biocontrol in a marine environment


Caulerpa taxifolia is a green alga which was introduced in the vicinity of Monaco by mistake in 1984. Its particular traits (particularly its ability to reproduce by the spreading of small fragments, and its resistance to the cold temperatures) make it a strong invader and a pest which strongly modify the ecosystems that it colonizes (see the picture above). 

To test the potentialities of a marine slug (Elysia subornata, Ascoglossa) as a biocontroler of the alga, we built a simulator (multiagent simulator), taking into account several traits of the animal and the pattern of growth and winter degeneracy of Caulerpa.

Conclusions are somewhat uncertain. It is clear that Elysisa subornata could only be an auxiliary tool in controlling the Caulerpa extension and a help to prevent some protected areas (marine parks and reserves) from its damages. But it could not be considered as a potential tool for eradication.

Authors : Patrick Coquillard, Thierry Thibaut, Claude Mazel (ISIMA), David Hill (ISIMA), Yann Coquillard

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