Hitchhikers Guide to Marine Bioinvasions/ Guide to Marine Hitchhikers

PI: Judith Pederson, MIT Sea Grant

Project Number:2001-A-23

Start Date:2001-03-01End Date:2002-02-28

Proposal Summary

Objectives: The goal of this proposed project is to increase public awareness of marine biological invasion impacts and to facilitate the identification of new marine invaders. The objectives are (1) develop a series of waterproof, field identification guides (or cards) for the public, (2) integrate the outreach and education efforts of several state agencies and nongovernment groups to participate in developing and distributing the outreach material, (3) develop a database for collating information for use in developing the Massachusetts Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan.

Methodology: Using information on current and potential future marine invaders, a series of photographs and drawings will be used to highlight the characteristics of nonindigenous species from similar native species. We will use SCUBA divers to take photographs, rely on published accounts of new species invading Europe to identity potential future species, and peer review all material before it is published. The field guides will be printed on waterproof paper and distributed broadly through nongovernment organizations, government agencies and other outlets to the general public. The field guides will include addresses for notifying the appropriate individuals and organizations, and provide forms for sitings (e.g. location, time, species, etc.). In addition, a database will be created for collecting returning forms and made available for use in preparing the Massachusetts Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. The database will eventually be turned over to the state for long-term maintenance.

Rationale: The rate of marine bioinvasions has increased over the past several decades. One of the first steps in managing marine invaders, is to identify what is present and to track the organisms' dispersal. Often the first siting of new invasive organisms are made by the pubic, specifically school children, college-age students, field biologists, and the public. This proposed project focuses on providing a guide for the interested public to use in identifying organisms and reporting this information back for use in developing management plans to prevent, manage and control marine invasive species.

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