The extent of biofouling on recreational vessels has been used as a proxy for the presence of alien species and has been linked with vessel characteristics. However, the relationship between these factors and alien species numbers has not been examined, despite the importance of this metric for invasive species management. This study assessed physical characteristics, maintenance regimes and travel patterns of yachts and their relationship with the number of macro-invertebrate alien species present on vessels from four South African marinas. Overall, 88% of yachts were fouled with macro-invertebrate alien species. The only factor that influenced alien species numbers in the context of this study was the primary use of yachts, with cruising yachts supporting significantly more alien species than racing yachts. This is likely linked to differences in cleaning regimes, as racers are subject to rigorous and frequent cleaning. These findings suggest that cruising vessels may play a key role in the intra-regional transfer of alien species and that racing yachts likely pose a lower biosecurity threat.
Invasive predators have caused rapid declines in many native prey species across the globe. Predator invasion success may be attributed to prey naïveté, or the absence of anti-predator behavior between native and non-native species. An understanding of the effects of naïveté at different timescales since introduction and across multiple trophic levels is lacking, however, particularly in marine systems. Given the central role of trophic interactions in invasion dynamics, this knowledge gap limits the ability to predict high impact predator invasions. Naïveté was examined across three trophic levels of marine invertebrates: a native basal prey (hard clam), two non-native intermediate predators (the recently-introduced Asian shore crab and the long-established European green crab), a native intermediate predator (juvenile blue crabs), and a native top predator (adult blue crab). We hypothesized that naïveté would be more pronounced in trophic interactions involving the recently-introduced non-native predator in comparison to the long-established non-native and native intermediate predators. We further hypothesized that the recently-introduced intermediate predator would both benefit from naïveté of the native basal prey and be hindered by higher mortality through its own naïveté to the native top predator. To test these hypotheses, three laboratory experiments and a field experiment were used. Consistent with our hypotheses, basal prey naïveté was most pronounced with the recently-introduced intermediate predator, and this increased the predator’s foraging success. This recently-introduced intermediate predator, however, exhibited an ineffective anti-predator response to the native top predator, and was also preyed upon more in the field than its long-established and native counterparts. Therefore, despite direct benefits from basal prey naïveté, the recently-introduced intermediate predator’s naïveté to its own predators may limit its invasion success. These results highlight the importance of a multi-trophic perspective on predator-prey dynamics to more fully understand the consequences of naïveté in invasion biology.
Invasive lionfishes Pterois volitans and Pterois miles have spread throughout the tropical western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Greater Caribbean. Beyond these two invaders, additional species within the subfamily Pteroinae are regularly imported into the United States. We evaluated the trade of lionfishes as a surrogate measure for propagule pressure, an important component of invasion success. Proactive evaluation of marine ornamental fishes in trade is vital, particularly for those sharing characteristics with known invaders. We utilized one year of import records from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Management Information System database and two domestic databases to capture the trade of all lionfishes in the US, the invasive complex in its invaded range in Florida, and two Hawaiian endemic lionfishes. Retail surveys were completed to assess lionfish availability across 10 coastal states. Compared to species diversity within the subfamily, the number of traded species was low and just two species were traded at moderate to high volume, including P. volitans and Dendrochirus zebra. At the retail level, fewer species are available to consumers. The trade in lionfishes is consolidated because most lionfishes originate from two Indo-Pacific countries and arrive through the port of Los Angeles. The volume and diversity of traded lionfishes presents some risk of introduction for lionfishes which are not established, and secondary introductions of the invasive P. volitans. In combination with rapid risk screening, this research can be applied to a proactive risk management framework to identify risky species prior to introduction and establishment.
Sunscreens and other personal care products use organic ultraviolet (UV) filters such as oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, Padimate-O, and octyl methoxycinnamate to prevent damage to human skin. While these compounds are effective at preventing sunburn, they have a demonstrated negative effect on cells and tissues across taxonomic levels. These compounds have a relatively short half-life in seawater but are continuously re-introduced via recreational activities and wastewater discharge, making them environmentally persistent. Because of this, testing seawater samples for the presence of these compounds may not be reflective of their abundance in the environment. Bioaccumulation of organic ultraviolet filters in a high-trophic level predator may provide greater insight to the presence and persistence of these compounds. To address this, the present study collected seawater samples as well as muscle and stomach content samples from the invasive Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the nearshore waters of Grenada, West Indies to examine the use of lionfish as potential bioindicator species. Seawater and lionfish samples were collected at four sites that are near point sources of wastewater discharge and that receive a high number of visitors each year. Samples were tested for the presence and concentrations of oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), Padimate-O, and octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Oxybenzone residues were detected in 60% of seawater samples and OMC residues were detected in 20% of seawater samples. Seawater samples collected in the surface waters near Grenada’s main beach had oxybenzone concentrations more than ten times higher than seawater samples collected in less frequently visited areas and the highest prevalence of UV filters in lionfish. Residues of oxybenzone were detected in 35% of lionfish muscle and 4-MBC residues were detected in 12% of lionfish muscle. Padimate-O was not detected in either seawater or lionfish samples. No organic UV filters were detected in lionfish stomach contents. Histopathologic examination of lionfish demonstrated no significant findings attributed to UV filter toxicity. These findings report UV filter residue levels for the first time in inshore waters in Grenada. Results indicate that lionfish may be bioaccumulating residues and may be a useful sentinel model for monitoring organic ultraviolet filters in the Caribbean Sea.
Algal assemblages are critical components of marine ecosystems from the intertidal to mesophotic depths; they act as primary producers, nutrient cyclers, and substrate providers. Coral reef ecosystems can be disrupted by stressors such as storm events, effluent inundation, sudden temperature shifts, and non-native invaders. Avrainvillea amadelpha is an invasive green alga that was first recorded in the main Hawaiian Islands on the west shore of Oahu and has continued to be of concern due to its extreme competitiveness with native algae and seagrasses. It has spread rapidly across the island of Oahu, decreasing the biodiversity of the benthos from shorelines to ∼90 m depth. We employed a boosted regression tree modeling framework to identify highly vulnerable regions prone to invasion. Our model indicated that regions exposed to minimal bottom currents and at least five degree heating weeks are particularly susceptible to A. amadelpha colonization. Additionally, we extrapolated our model to the main Hawaiian Islands and forecasted how a 25% increase in statewide annual maximum degree heating weeks may change habitat suitability for A. amadelpha. Across all islands, we identified particularly vulnerable “hotspot” regions of concern for resource managers and conservationists. This manuscript demonstrates the utility of this approach for identifying priority regions for invasive species management in the face of a changing climate.
Human occupation of coastal areas promotes the establishment of non-native species but information on bioinvasions is usually biased toward the Northern Hemisphere. We assessed non-native species' importance in sessile communities at six marinas along the most urbanized area of the Southwestern Atlantic coastline. We found 67 species, of which 19 are exotic. The most frequent species was the exotic polychaete Branchiomma luctuosum, while the most abundant was the exotic bryozoan Schizoporella errata that monopolized the substrata in three marinas. Along with S. errata, the exotic polychaete Hydroides elegans and ascidian Styela plicata dominated space in the three remaining marinas, while native species were in general rare. We show that communities associated with artificial substrata along this Brazilian urbanized area are dominated by exotic species and that using abundance data along with species identity can improve our understanding of the importance of exotic species for the dynamics of biological communities.
Incorporating ecosystem changes from non-indigenous species (NIS) is an important task of maritime spatial planning. Maritime spatial planning requires a framework that emphasises ecological functioning in a state of dynamic change, including changes to ecosystem services from functions introduced by new NIS. Adaptable modelling toolsets should be developed that can readily incorporate knowledge of new NIS. In the Baltic Sea, recent NIS examples are the North American mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii and the Ponto-Caspian round goby Neogobius melanostomus. We performed environmental niche modelling that predicted N. melanostomus will spread across large areas of the Baltic Sea coast while R. harrisii will be limited to regions with high temperature and low salinity conditions. We then performed a meta-analysis on literature showing effects in the Baltic Sea from these NIS and calculated the standardised effect-sizes on relevant ecosystem services. Half the impacts identified for N. melanostomus were considered to increase ecosystem service outcomes, while all R. harrisii impacts caused apparent decreases. Effect coefficients were incorporated into an online impact assessment tool developed by the Estonian Marine Institute. Users with or without science training can use the portal to estimate areas impacted and changes to natural assets (km2) caused by these NIS and cumulative effects from other pressure-types. Impact estimates are based on best available knowledge from manipulative and correlative experiments and thus form a link between science and management. Dynamic modelling techniques informed from varied ecological and methodological perspectives will effectively advise spatial planners about rapid maritime changes and mitigationactions to reduce NIS impacts especially in the focus areas.
Managing invasive alien species is particularly challenging in the ocean mainly because marine ecosystems are highly connected across broad spatial scales. Eradication of marine invasive species has only been achieved when species were detected early, and management responded rapidly. Generalized approaches, transferable across marine regions, for prioritizing actions to control invasive populations are currently lacking. Here, expert knowledge was elicited to prioritize 11 management actions for controlling 12 model species, distinguished by differences in dispersion capacity, distribution in the area to be managed, and taxonomic identity. Each action was assessed using five criteria (effectiveness, feasibility, acceptability, impacts on native communities, and cost), which were combined in an ‘applicability’ metric. Raising public awareness and encouraging the commercial use of invasive species were highly prioritized, whereas biological control actions were considered the least applicable. Our findings can guide rapid decision-making on prioritizing management options for the control of invasive species especially at early stages of invasion, when reducing managers' response time is critical.
Lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles) are an invasive species in the Western Atlantic and the Caribbean. Improving management of invasive lionfish populations requires accurate total biomass estimates, which depend on accurate estimates of allometric growth; sedentary species like lionfish often exhibit high levels of spatial variation in life history characteristics. We reviewed 17 published length-weight relationships for lionfish taken throughout their invasive range and found regional differences that led to significant misestimates when calculating weight from length observations. The spatial pattern we observed is consistent with findings from other studies focused on genetics or length-at-age. Here, the use of ex situparameter values resulted in total biomass estimates between 76.2% and 140% of true observed biomass, and up to a threefold under- or overestimation of total weight for an individual organism. These findings can have implications for management in terms of predicting effects on local ecosystems, evaluating the effectiveness of removal programs, or estimating biomass available for harvest.
Non-native species are a major driver of environmental change. In this study we assessed the ecological impact of the “worst” non-native species and the associated scientific and media publications through time to understand what influences interest in these species. Ecological effect was based on a qualitative assessment reported in research publications and additional searches of the scientific and media attention were conducted to determine published articles and assess attention. We did not detect a relationship between the number of publications for a non-native species and the magnitude of the ecological effects of that species or the number of citations. Media coverage on non-native species was low, only evident for less than 50% of the non-native species assessed. Media coverage was initially related to the number of scientific publications, but was short-lived. In contrast, the attention to individual non-native species in the scientific literature was sustained through time and often continued to increase over time. Time between detection of the non-native species and the scientific/media attention were reduced with each successive introduction to a new geographic location. Tracking publications on non-native species indicated that media attention does seem to be associated with the production of scientific research while scientific attention was not related to the magnitude of the ecological effects.