Helping to Save an Endangered Species from Extinction – one boulder at a time

Dr Darren Fa, the University’s Director of Research tells us more about work undertaken to aid conservation efforts to prevent the Mediterranean Ribbed Limpet disappearing from our shores.
A team of scientists from the University of Gibraltar, the Gibraltar National Museum and the University of Seville have published in the journal Endangered Species Research on a novel conservation technique developed in Gibraltar.
The Mediterranean Ribbed Limpet Patella ferruginea is a large and distinctive intertidal limpet. Archaeological studies indicate that its original distribution covered the entire western Mediterranean, but now its population has diminished to such an extent that it is listed as the most threatened marine invertebrate in the EU’s Habitat’s Directive. Its habit of settling settle on artificial shorelines however, can mean that conservation priorities can conflict with other demands, especially as previous attempts to move individuals had resulted in mass mortalities. Having demonstrated the affinity that each limpet had with its own home scar, the study explored the viability of moving the limpets whilst attached to their home boulder. This produced survivorships in moved limpets of over 80%, even exceeding survival rates in control limpets.
Dr Fa commented, “Whilst moving these individuals should always be a last resort, this is an important result in that it provides a possible solution to impasses that can occur when different and often urgent needs collide, as well as providing exciting new opportunities with regard to reintroducing this species to its previous range and safeguarding its population hotspots.”
Article: Impossible’ re-introduction of the endangered limpet Patella ferruginea Gmelin, 1791? Progress in resolving translocation mortality.  D. A. Fa, G. Finlayson, J. Sempere-Valverde and J.C. Garcia-Gomez, in Endangered Species Research, 37, 219–232 (2018).