Non-native organisms are famous for causing environmental problems when, accidentally or intentionally, they are translocated outside their normal range into a new region. Biological invasions of non-native species are one of the most devastating threats to native communities, said study co-author Kerstin Wasson of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Wasson has documented more than 55 non-native invertebrates in Elkhorn Slough, California, and became involved in this project because we urgently need practical solutions to stem the tide of aquatic invasions.
Previous research has shown that ballast water from the global shipping industry inadvertently transports enormous numbers of aquatic organisms from one port to another. These non-native species introductions have caused changes in habitat structure, large economic costs due to factors such as biofouling and predation on commercial species, and are thought to have been involved in 70% of native aquatic species extinctions in the last 100 years. Because of these impacts, researchers from all over the world have been developing ways to clear the ballast water of aquatic organisms that may colonize new habitats.
But current solutionssuch as intensive filtration, heat treatments, and biocidesare costly, can be dangerous to ship crewmembers, and can have negative effects on the surrounding environment where the treated waters are discharged. Costly t
Contact: Debbie Meyer
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute