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Species Introductions and Potential for Marine Pest Invasions into Tropical Marine Communities, with Special Reference to the Indo-Pacific

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Title: Species Introductions and Potential for Marine Pest Invasions into Tropical Marine Communities, with Special Reference to the Indo-Pacific
Authors: Hutchings, P.A.
Hilliard, R.W.
Coles, S.L.
Issue Date: Apr 2002
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Hutchings PA, Hilliard RW, Coles SL. 2002. Species introductions and potential for marine pest invasions into tropical marine communities, with special reference to the Indo-Pacific. Pac Sci 56(2): 223-233.
Abstract: Introductions of marine species by hull fouling or ballast water have
occurred extensively in temperate areas, often with substantial deleterious impacts.
However, current information suggests that marine introductions potentially
able to achieve pest species status have been fewer in tropical regions. A
1997 risk assessment examining introductions to 12 tropical ports in Queensland
(Australia) concluded that far fewer marine species appeared to have been introduced,
even at major bulk export ports where the number of ship visits and
volume of discharged ballast water are more than at most of Australia's cooler
water ports. Results from recent surveys looking for introduced species in tropical
ports across northern Australia are beginning to support this conclusion,
although the lack of historic baseline surveys and the poor taxonomic status of
many tropical groups are preventing a precise picture. The 1997 report also
concluded that, apart from pathogens and parasites of warm-water species, the
potential for marine pest invasions in Queensland tropical ports appeared to be
low, and not only because much of the discharged ballast water originates from
temperate ports in North Asia. In contrast, recent surveys of harbors in Hawai'i
have found over 110 introduced species (including 23 cryptogenic species), the
majority in the estuarine embayments of Pearl Harbor and O'ahu's commercial
harbors. We suggest that the biogeographically isolated and less diverse marine
communities of Hawaiian ports have been more susceptible to introductions
than those of tropical Australia for several reasons, including the closeness of
Australia to the central Indo-Pacific "triangle" of megadiversity (Indonesia-Philippines-
Papua New Guinea) and consequent high biodiversity and low
endemicity, hence offering fewer niches for nonindigenous species to become
established. The isolated central Pacific position of Hawai'i and its long history
of receiving worldwide commercial and naval shipping (including more heavily
fouled vessels than contemporary merchant ships) is another key factor, although
the estuarine warm-water ports of Townsville, Brisbane, and Darwin
also provided anchorages for military units during World War n. Hull fouling
remains an important vector, as it is the most likely cause of the recent transfer
of the highly invasive Caribbean black-striped mussel (Mytilopsis sallei) to enclosed
(lock-gate) marinas in Darwin by international cruising yachts arriving
via the Panama Canal. The cost of eliminating this pest (>US$1.6 million) underscores
the importance of managing not just commercial shipping but also
pleasure craft, fishing boats, and naval ships as vectors of exotic species to ports,
harbors, and marinas in coral reef areas.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 56, Number 2, 2002

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