Humans have intensively sailed the Mediterranean and European Atlantic waters throughout history, from the upper Paleolithic until today and centuries of human seafaring have established complex coastal and cross-seas navigation networks. Historical literature revealed three major long-lasting maritime routes (eastern, western, northern) with four commencing locations (Alexandria, Venice, Genoa, Gibraltar) and a fourth route (circum-Italian) that connected between them. Due to oceangoing and technological constraints, most voyages were coastal, lasted weeks to months, with extended resting periods, allowing the development of fouling organisms on ship hulls. One of the abiding travellers in maritime routes is the colonial ascidian Botryllus schlosseri already known since the eighteenth century in European and Mediterranean ports. This species, was almost certainly one of the common hull fouling travellers in all trade routes for centuries. Employing COI haplotypes (1008 samples) and microsatellite alleles (995 samples) on colonies sampled from 64 pan-European sites, present-day Botryllus populations in the Mediterranean Sea/European Atlantic revealed significant segregation between all four maritime routes with a conspicuous partition of the northern route. These results reveal that past anthropogenic transports of sedentary marine species throughout millennia long seafaring have left their footprint on contemporary seascape genetics of marine organisms.
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