Marine Invasive Species

Marine invasive species are categorized as being non-native species that threaten native biological diversity, human health and/or economic activity. Globally, marine biological invasions have increased due to trade, transport and tourism. Invasions occur when species get transported from one region to another and establish themselves in their new surroundings. These unwanted guests compete for space and can displace and change populations of native species.

red algae Aspargopsis.JPGThe red algae, Asparagopsis taxiformis, is already in the GMR and has the potential to be invasive

The possible invasion of marine species to the GMR given the connectivity that exists with the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP), the increase in marine traffic, and possible climate changes is a reality that should not be ignored. Because of ocean currents, the Galapagos Islands have great connectivity with the rest of the ETP. Understanding the different human influences that the GMR receives are a priority in order to protect the archipelago. Our research shows that six species with high potential to develop into “invasives” are already present in the GMR. CDF scientists, alongside collaborators, are creating risk assessment tools for the prevention, early detection and management of invasive marine species. We are also developing rapid response protocols to support our local partners’ control efforts.

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Collaborators: Galapagos National Park Directorate, the Ecuadorian Oceanographic Institute (INOCAR); the National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces (DIRNEA); the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG); the Ecuadorian Navy and University of Dundee, Scotland; University of Southampton

Funders: Darwin Initiative, Galapagos Conservancy and the Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic Fund.

Featured news articles

Marine Invasive Species: a potential threat to the Galapagos Marine Reserve

CDF scientists continue to train ABG and GNPD staff in recognizing marine invasive species in Galapagos

Published literature

Evolving Marine Biosecurity in the Galapagos Islands