Exotic Marine Species

Vectors and Pathways of Invasive Species

Global human population growth along with increased international travel and trade has led to the introduction and transportation of aquatic invasive species (AIS) throughout Canada. Once established, AIS pose a leading threat to the biodiversity of our lake, river and marine ecosystems.

Members of our lab have been part of Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network‘s and DFO’s efforts to better understand the vectors and pathways of invasion. Vectors and pathways are the means by which species are transported from one location to another. Natural pathways include wind, currents, and other forms of dispersal in which a specific species has developed morphological and behavioural characteristics to employ. Man-made pathways are those that are enhanced or created by human activity.

Small boats may also serve as transportation for fouling plants and animals. Some of these species may be new to BC or Canada. The introduction and spread of new species in Canadian waters poses a large threat to native biodiversity and can have widespread effects on both our economy and health. Some of these species can become pests that cost money to control or remove.

Megan Mach established baseline data of what exotic (and native) species are currently present in seagrass beds along the BC and Nova Scotian coastlines.

Veronica Lo created a ballast water discharge data base to help quantify the number of ships and amount of ballast entering British Columbian and Nova Scotian ports.

Cathryn Clarke Murray‘s recent Diversity and Distributions paper (currently in press) – Recreational boating: a large unregulated vector transporting marine invasive species.

What is CAISN?

The Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (CAISN) is a national league of specialists created to examine and identify existing invasions with the goal to predict and prevent new aquatic invasive species from harming Canada’s aquatic ecosystems. All together CAISN brings together 34 researchers from 21 partner universities and five federal laboratories. Our research incorporates broad taxonomic, ecosystem, geographic, mathematic and philosophical diversity. CAISN represents the first attempt by any country to marry the various skills and interests of academia, government, industry, and non-government organizations with the aim to assist affected industries, develop government policy and advance invasion science and technology.