Marine Bioinvaders in the Gulf of Maine

Judith Pederson
MIT Sea Grant College Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Delivered at 2003 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium.

Invasive species impose major economic and ecological impacts on our environment, but the impact of marine introductions is still poorly documented. In 2000 and 2003, a team of 15 taxonomists and graduate students conducted a rapid assessment survey of native and non-native species found in fouling communities of harbors and marinas. In the August 2000 Massachusetts survey of 20 harbors and marinas, a total of 260 plants and invertebrates were identified, of which 29 were introduced species and 31 were cryptogenic species (of unknown origin). Four of the introduced species were not previously identified in the literature as being in Massachusetts. Four locations in Boston Harbor were monitored. Of a total of 92 species identified in the fouling community survey; 15 were introduced and 13 were cryptogenic species. Data from the August 2003 survey that sampled 20 fouling communities from Maine through New York City are not fully analyzed, but it appears that 3-4 new introductions were observed.

Reviews of the literature suggest that species arrive via shipping (ballast and hull fouling), aquaculture, research and education, bait, live seafood and other human-mediated vectors. The information from these rapid assessment surveys combined with other data may be used to develop aquatic nuisance species management plans and support management prevention efforts that focus on vectors responsible for introductions.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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