Minimizing invasion risk by reducing propagule pressure: a model for ballast-water exchange

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  • Biological invasions are a major and increasing agent of global biodiversity change. Theory and practice indicate that invasion risk can be diminished by reducing propagule pressure, or the quantity, quality, and frequency of introduced individuals. For aquatic invasions, the primary global invasion pathway is ballast-water transport, and the primary risk reduction strategy is currently open-ocean exchange. Exchange was developed with shipping between freshwater ports in mind, but the majority of shipping connects brackish and marine ports. A worldwide convention, adopted in 2004 by the International Maritime Organization, now mandates ballast-water exchange (or equivalent management) for its 164 member states. Will exchange be as effective in reducing invasion risk for euryhaline species (those capable of tolerating a wide range of salinity levels) in saltwater ports? Here we develop a simple mathematical framework for optimizing ballast-water exchange in terms of exchange level, timing, and species salinity tolerance. Our model shows that when species survival is worse in the post-exchange than in the pre-exchange water, exchange is always effective. However, when survival is equal or better following exchange, a critical level and timing are required for effective exchange. We illustrate the model’s applications with a variety of introduced marine and estuarine organisms.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 2005 Ecological Society of America. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • Wonham, M. J., Lewis, M. A., & MacIsaac, H. J. (2005). Minimizing invasion risk by reducing propagule pressure: a model for ballast-water exchange. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 3(9), 473-478.