Managing invasive species

Invasive species can be introduced to marine environments by a range of human activities, including shipping and release from aquarium or aquaculture facilities. This is an issue rapidly increasing in importance and relevance in the Caribbean but thus far little has been done to address the problem of invasive species in marine planning and management.

Invasive species can pose serious threats and lead to dramatic impacts in marine environments. Research and monitoring efforts are essential to provide early detection of the arrival of invasive species, and to equip managers with a better understanding of the impacts on coral reef ecosystems. This understanding must be complemented with local or regional action plans for managers to restrict the introduction and expansion of invasive species in ecosystems.

Marine invasive species are a hot topic and there is an abundance of information online on the status of invasives, examples of invasive threats and ways to mitigate the threat, and current and ongoing initiatives in the Caribbean. The resource list has been organized to first present links to Caribbean-specific information on the threat of invasive marine species and options to reduce the threat of invasives like lionfish.  Resources describing mitigation activities are presented next, followed by some international guidelines and protocols. For this theme there are many other resources online beyond those presented here.


Key Publications

Worst case scenario: potential long-term effects of invasive predatory Lionfish (Pterois volitans) on Atlantic and Caribbean coral-reef communities (2011) Albins MA and Hixon MA. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 1-7.

Trade, transport and trouble: managing invasive species pathways in an era of globalization (2009) Hulme PE. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 10–18. This is a scientific paper from Lincoln University, New Zealand explaining how trade has influenced the spread of invasive species. It is heavy in scientific detail and does not directly relate to management, so is of limited use to Caribbean coastal managers.

Alien species stay home: The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments 2004. Tsimplis M. International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 19(4): 411-482.

Marine invasive alien species: a threat to global biodiversity (2003) Bax N, Williamson A, Aguero M, Gonzalez E and Geeves W. Marine Policy, 27(4): 313-323.

Biological control of marine invasive species: cautionary tales and land-based lessons (2003) Secord D. Biological Invasions, Volume 5, Issue 1-2, 117-131.