Invertebrates and their dormant eggs transported in ballast sediments of ships arriving to the Canadian coasts and the Laurentian Great Lakes

Elizabeta Briski, Sarah A. Bailey and Hugh J. MacIsaac

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(5), 2011, 1929-1939 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.5.1929

ABSTRACT: The most effective strategy for managing nonindigenous species (NIS) is through prevention of their transport via regulation of introduction vectors. We sampled 135 ships arriving to three different regions of Canada to assess abundance and species richness of invertebrates and their dormant eggs transported in ballast sediments. By sampling ships that followed particular pathways, we were able to compare vector strength to different regions, the invasion risk of transoceanic vs. coastal vessels, and the effect of midocean exchange, length of voyage, and amount of sediment on the richness and abundance of species inside ballast tanks. Although standardized ballast management regulations have been implemented across Canada, the resulting invasion risk is not uniform across regions. Ships arriving to the Atlantic region carried a greater sediment load with correspondingly higher abundance and species richness than those arriving to the Pacific and Great Lakes regions. Abundance and species richness of invertebrates and their dormant eggs associated with transoceanic ships did not differ from that of ships operating along coastal areas of North America. Similarly, midocean exchange did not reduce either abundance or species richness of invertebrate dormant eggs in ships. Finally, the length of voyage did not influence taxonomic composition or abundance of invertebrate dormant eggs but was directly related to survival of active macroinvertebrates. Ballast sediments could introduce new NIS to some regions of Canada despite requirements to manage ships' ballast by midocean exchange. Minimizing sediment accumulation may be the only effective management option for this vector.

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