Aquatic invasive species are one of the largest threats to biodiversity in the oceans. One of the main measures taken within marine strategies to preserve biodiversity is to establish marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs are areas with high biological diversity, and it is therefore important to establish effective management strategies for these areas. This project will investigate the climate change induced spread of invasive alien species (IAS) to MPAs in the North East Atlantic (North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat). In the area between Denmark, Sweden and Norway, several ocean current systems merge and the maritime traffic is intense. A regional approach will be developed, aiming to produce a general concept for trans-national mitigation work regarding invasive alien species.
The project will combine climate ocean models, remote sensing and data on marine traffic, with species distribution models for predictions of new introductions.
We will develop risk assessments for new introductions of alien and potentially invasive species, identifying so-called “invasion hubs” (particularly favourable areas for introduction) and the risk for subsequent spread to MPAs. These assessments will, in close cooperation with regional and local stakeholders, be used to develop advice for the management and control of invasive alien species.
Using predictive modeling, we aim to achieve an effective management of invasive species, enabling early detection through public engagement, and in-time science-based preventive and eradication actions.
Invasive alien species are one of the biggest threats to the earth's biodiversity. Human activities such as transport and trade lead to more and more organisms being moved to new areas on earth where they can establish themselves and potentially become invasive. Climate change leads to the earth's climate zones moving towards the poles, which in turn leads to range shifts in many marine and terrestrial species. Climate change-induced range-shifts can lead to alien species spreading more easily and faster to new areas and that they more easily establish themselves in the new areas and become invasive as they negatively affect the local ecosystems. The established invasive species can then negatively affect the new area's ability to withstand climate change, which can lead to a further increased risk of the establishment of new alien species in the area, creating a negative spiral that leads to an accelerating loss of the native biodiversity. Protected areas can however offer a refuge for threatened species from the negative impacts of invasive alien species which makes it even more relevant to concentrate limited resources for management and control measures against IAS in protected areas. On land it has been difficult to protect for example Natura 2000 from invasive species as the introductions are driven by human activities. In the marine environment this is even more challenging as dispersal of species not easily can be followed visually, but instead require targeted monitoring efforts.
This project presents methodologies that will (i) predict new invasions, (ii) optimize early detection, and (iii) minimize the negative effects of climate change-induced spread of invasive alien species to Marine protected areas.
MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling