Biotic homogenization is an expected effect of biological invasions. Invasive alien species typically show great adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions and may expand into different habitats, thus reducing the dissimilarity among the recipient communities. We tested this assumption by analyzing a comprehensive database (78 species × 229 samples) collected between 2012 and 2017 in the marine protected area of Portofino (NW Italy), where Caulerpa cylindracea
, one of the worst invaders in the Mediterranean Sea, exhibits high substratum cover at depths between 1 m and 45 m in 14 different communities (identified according to the European Nature Information System EUNIS for habitat classification). Five samples for each of the eight depth zones (i.e., 5 m, 10 m, 15 m, 20 m, 25 m, 30 m, 35 m, and 40 m) were randomly re-sampled from the comprehensive database to produce a dataset of 67 species × 40 samples. Then, a second dataset of 66 species × 40 samples was simulated by excluding Caulerpa cylindracea
. Both re-sampled datasets underwent multivariate analysis. In the presence of C. cylindracea
, the overall similarity among samples was higher, thus indicating homogenization of the rocky reef communities of Portofino Marine Protected Area. Continued monitoring activity is needed to understand and assess the pattern and extent of C. cylindracea
’s inclusion in the recipient ecosystems.
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