Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Invasive Species in the Great Lakes by 2063

30.01.2015

New study shows the vulnerability of the basin to future invaders – and calls for regulations to mitigate this threat

The Great Lakes have been invaded by more non-native species than any other freshwater ecosystem in the world. In spite of increasing efforts to stem the tide of invasion threats, the lakes remain vulnerable, according to scientists from McGill University and colleagues in Canada and the United States. If no new regulations are enforced, they predict new waves of invasions and identify some species that could invade the Lakes over the next 50 years.


©Michal Grabowski

A killer shrimp, one of the species at a high risk of invading the Great Lakes

Over the past two centuries, more than 180 non-native species have been recorded in the Great Lakes and the rivers that flow into them. Nearly 20% of these species are considered to be harmful ecologically and economically, posing threats to the Lakes’ native biodiversity and multibillion dollar fishery. New threats are emerging because of risks associated with trade in live organisms and climate change, the researchers caution in a study in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Effective legislation?
In recent years, the pace of species invasions appears to have slowed dramatically, as measures have been taken to protect the lakes. This is why the three scenarios (optimistic, pessimistic and status quo) the researchers considered for the next 50 years hinge on the implementation and effectiveness of regulations aimed at blocking current means of entry for invasive species.

Indeed, for many years, shipping was the primary pathway for new species to enter the basin, until the rules were tightened. Ballast water is taken on board and later discharged by ships to maintain a consistent weight as they receive and offload cargo. In 2006 and 2008, new regulations were mandated that required ships to discharge freshwater and fill their tanks with saltwater before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway. This means that ballast tank water should contain only saltwater animals, which are incapable of surviving and multiplying in the Great Lakes. “No new species have been recorded since 2006,” says Katie Pagnucco, PhD student at McGill and lead author of the study. “We may have closed the door on ballast water-mediated invasions. That remains to be seen. But other doors are still open.”

Future scenarios
In the most pessimistic scenario, greater numbers of non-native species are introduced, as ballast water regulations prove to be ineffective in the long term, and live trade continues to expand. Live trade – the importation of live animals and plants for food markets or to be used as baitfish and aquarium pets – is largely unregulated. Consequently, in 50 years, the Great Lakes would be populated with many new invaders, most of which may come from inland waterways where Europe and Asia meet – the region around the Black Sea. This region is the source of some of the most disruptive invaders in the Great Lakes today, such as the zebra mussel, and still has many species at a high risk of invading the North American lakes and rivers, such as the killer shrimp or the monkey goby.

The status-quo scenario includes no additional protection policies. Ballast water regulations remain effective, and no new species arrive with overseas ships. The primary cause of invasions in this scenario becomes live trade. The main threat would be Asian carp species, which are well adapted to temperature conditions in much of the Great Lakes. They are voracious plankton-feeders, capable of diverting energy from the rest of the food web, and thus could impact the fishery.

In the most optimistic scenario, the risk of invasion is minimized by harmonized policies enforced by Canada and the United States. “Invasions are a transboundary issue,” says McGill professor Anthony Ricciardi, an invasive-species biologist who supervised the study. “In addition to harmonized regulations on live trade, the two countries must coordinate early detection and rapid response to new threats – before an invasion has progressed beyond control.”

Weakened temperature barrier
The researchers caution that climate change will complicate each of the scenarios. “For example, the Great Lakes have already had all the invasive species from the Mississippi that could survive there, as a temperature barrier is protecting us from others” notes Pagnucco. But warmer waters will facilitate the migration and establishment of southern species, most notably via the canal from the Mississippi to the Great Lakes.
Invasion risks are dynamic and management responses must evolve to cope with them, Ricciardi and Pagnucco caution.

The study will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research that examines the history of the Great Lakes over the past few decades and forecasts their future.

This work was supported by the Great Lakes Futures Project, funded by the Transborder Research University Network, Environment Canada, Michigan Sea Grant, New York Sea Grant, and supporting universities. Additional funding was provided by the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network and an NSERC Discovery
Grant.

“The future of species invasions in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin”.
Journal of Great Lakes Research, available online December 3, 2014
Katie S. Pagnucco, George A. Maynard, Shannon A. Fera, Norman D. Yan,
Thomas F. Nalepa, Anthony Ricciardi
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0380133014002159

Contact Information
Melody Enguix
Communications Officer
melody.enguix@mcgill.ca
Phone: 514-398-6751

Melody Enguix | newswise
Further information:
http://www.mcgill.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>