Risk Assessment for Invasive Marine Species from Vessels Arriving in the Northeastern United States

Using ship arrival and ballast water discharge data, MIT undergraduate researcher, Michelle Slosberg, has created a geographically referenced risk assessment method to predict sources of invasive species into the northeastern United States. The method is a useful tool for scientists and managers of coastal areas to predict the sources and species of likely marine invaders before invasions become severe.

Eight species were studied in depth to predict the likelihood of their introduction to the region. Of these species, Clavelina lepadiformis, the light bulb tunicate, and Heterosiphonia japonica, a Pacific alga, were found most likely to spread throughout the northeastern United States as a result of shipping. The riskiest sources of ships were the Carolinian region, which is located along the coast of the southeastern United States and the North Sea of Europe.

Introduced marine species pose a major and expanding threat to global coastal ecosystems. Once introduced, these species frequently invade and become extremely difficult to eradicate.

This project was supported by the Paul E. Gray (1954) Endowed Fund for UROP for Summer 2011 and supervised by Judith Pederson at MIT Sea Grant.

This page was last modified: August 4, 2014 10:48 am


Michelle Slosberg
MIT Sea Grant Summer UROP Researcher, 2011

Judith Pederson
Research Affiliate