A biological invasion is when a foreign species enters a new environment and causes some kind of economic. Health or ecological damage. These invaders often found in the cargo of aircraft and ships. And can cause massive economic losses and devastating effects on the environment.
Although the number of accidental introductions that eventually lead to invasions is increasing. It’s rare for small numbers of species and individuals to be introduce in new areas.
Science published new research today that shows hundreds of marine species traveled from Japan to North America after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and subsequent destructions.
Biofouling is the process where organisms grow on submerged surfaces. Marine introductions are a result of biofouling. A slimy bacterial film forms within days. It is possible to find fully formed communities after a few months, depending on the water temperature. This includes algae, molluscs like bryozoans and crustaceans as well as other animals.
Biosecurity measures such as border surveillance and antifouling on ships are in place to combat a constant stream of potential invaders. They are not equip to handle an invasion event on the scale that was observe along the North American coast. The same would hold true for Australia with its vast coastlines as for North America.
Masses Of Marine Migration Species
James Carlton, Williams College’s director of research, found that debris from human activity has led to many marine organisms arriving along the west coast. These debris included small pieces of plastic, buoys, floating docks, and damaged vessels. All of the items harboured organisms. Numerous individuals representing nearly 300 marine species were found alive in the debris. They were most likely new to North America.
Many human artifacts and coastal infrastructure were swept out to sea by the tsunami. Items that were already in the sea before the tsunami took their marine communities with them. These living communities then carry across the Pacific by the North Pacific Current to Alaska, British Columbia and Oregon, Washington, and California.
This unusual process is due to the fact that a natural extreme event, the earthquake and tsunami, caused an extremely large introduction event. Its impact on coastal infrastructure was what makes it unique. Researchers argue that this unprecedented event constitutes “tsunami driven mega crafting. Basically, rafting is the process where organisms can travel across oceans on any type of debris.
It is not yet known how many new species will establish and how they will spread to their new environments. It is certain that at least some of these new species will infiltrate the environment, based on what we know. In marine species, establishment and initial population growth often hidden. It is only when it is difficult or costly to identify a new species that it can done.
Although biosecurity surveillance systems can use to address this problem, it is difficult to monitor the entire coast for multiple species. One of the most important questions that the study raises is whether it was a one-off event. Could similar events be possible in the future? The rapid pace of coastal infrastructure development is clear. This adds an additional dimension to coastal biosecurity and will need to taken into consideration.
Investing in early warning systems and coastal planning will be a great help. Also, reducing plastic pollution will be a good idea. However, such investments may not be worth much if there is no action taken to comply with, and then exceed, the national determine contributions to Paris Agreement. It is possible to expect a climate-driven sea level increase of over 1 m by 2025. This will increase the risk posed by interactions between natural extremes and the ongoing development of coastal infrastructure. This research has revealed what may be an increasingly common ecological process in the Anthropocene: the era human-driven global changes.