Invasive species

Marine species are introduced to new environments by several means including transport in ships ballast water, biofouling on ships hulls, accidental introductions through aquaculture and by attachment to floating debris in the ocean. Many organisms will find their new environment hostile and will die off but some will thrive, often due to a lack of natural predators in the new environment, and spread to form new populations elsewhere. These are called invasive alien species.

Invasive alien species can have a devastating effect on local ecosystems, adversely affecting biological diversity, ecosystem functioning, and even human health. The rate of aquatic invasions has increased in recent decades and is now considered as one of the key causes of biodiversity changes worldwide.

PML scientists are studying the effects of invasive species on local ecosystems and developing modelling tools to assess the likelihood of success of future invasions and estimate the potential impact on ecosystem structure and biodiversity.

Untreated ballast water is one of the major sources on introduced species. From September 2017 ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms as the International Maritime Organization's Ballast Water Convention comes into force.

Through our trading subsidiary PML Applications Ltd we are enabling shipping companies to choose, operate and test ballast water management systems to minimise introductions of non-native species and ensure compliance with regulations. PML Applications Ltd also offer biofouling management services including the development and testing of antifouling technologies to reduce species introductions.

Making a difference

Our research will inform future policy and management of invasive species and develop solutions to minimise the transport of aquatic species thus helping to secure healthy and productive seas and oceans.

Further information

Projects

Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors (VECTORS)
Completed

Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors (VECTORS)

Contact: Professor Melanie Austen

VECTORS improved our understanding of how environmental and man-made factors are impacting marine ecosystems now and in the future. Through...

Marine Ecosystem Evolution in a Changing Environment (MEECE)
Completed

Marine Ecosystem Evolution in a Changing Environment (MEECE)

Contact: Professor Icarus Allen

MEECE was a European FP7 project which used predictive models to explore the impacts of both climate drivers, such as acidification and temperature...

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News

44 Invading species loose in the North Atlantic

Accidental introductions of non-native species has been of increasing concern since the 1980s when human-mediated transportation, mainly related to ships' ballast water, was recognized as a major route by which species are transported and spread.

News

Global ballast water convention to enter into force, halting invasive aquatic species

Today, accession by Finland has triggered the entry into force of a key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species via ships' ballast water. 

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Jellyfish smacks can pack an environmental wallop

Swarms of jellyfish are increasingly being reported from seas around the world. These swarms, or blooms, can cause changes in food webs and have detrimental effects on fishing, tourism, industry and local economies.

Related publications

  1. David, AA; Matthee, CA; Loveday, BR; Simon, CA. 2016 Predicting the Dispersal Potential of an Invasive Polychaete Pest along a Complex Coastal Biome. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 1-11. 10.1093/icb/icw011
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  2. Peck, MA; Arvanitidis, C; Butenschon, M; Melaku Canu, D; Chatzinikolaou, E; Cucco, A; Domenici, P; Fernandes, JA; Gaschel, L; Huebert, KB; Hufnagl, M; Jones, MC; Kempf, A; Keyl, F; Maar, M; Mahevas, S; Marchal, P; Nicolas, D; Pinnegar, JK; Rivot, E; Rochette, S; Sell, AF; Sinerchia, M; Solidoro, C; Somerfield, PJ; Teal, LR; Travers-Trolet, M; van der Wolfshaar, K. 2016 Projecting Changes in the Distribution and Productivity of Living Marine Resources: A Critical Review of the Suite of Modeling Approaches used in the Large European Project VECTORS [in special issue: Vectors Special Issue] Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 10.1016/j.ecss.2016.05.019 (In Press)
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  3. Groeneveld, RA; Bosello, F; Butenschon, M; Elliott, M; Peck, MA; Pinnegar, JK. 2015 Defining scenarios of future vectors of change in marine life and associated economic sectors. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 10.1016/j.ecss.2015.10.020
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  4. Marras, S; Cucco, A; Antognarelli, F; Azzurro, E; Milazzo, M; Bariche, M; Butenschon, M; Kay, S; Di Bitetto, M; Quattrocchi, G; Sinerchia, M; Domenici, P. 2015 Predicting future thermal habitat suitability of competing native and invasive fish species: from metabolic scope to oceanographic modelling. Conservation Physiology, 3 (1). cou059-cou059. 10.1093/conphys/cou059
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  5. Borger, T; Hattam, C; Burdon, D; Atkins, JP; Austen, MC. 2014 Valuing conservation benefits of an offshore marine protected area. Ecological Economics, 108. 229-241. 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.10.006
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