Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Changes in ship-borne invasions in coupled natural-human systems: infrastructure, global trade, climate and policy

  • Funded By: National Science Foundation
  • ECI Investigators: David Lodge, Nitesh Chawla, Michael Pfrender, Thanuka Wickaramarathne
  • Partners: California State University, University of Delaware

Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Changes in ship-borne invasions in coupled natural-human systems: infrastructure, global trade, climate and policy

This project analyzes global shipping network for risk of invasion to identify where risks may increase as a result of on-going changes in the shipping network.  Ships deliver 90% of the world’s goods and link all ports in a global network.  Thousands of species - some of which are harmful - hitchhike in the ballast water or on the hulls and other exposed surfaces of ships. 

An integrated team of experts in network science, engineering, economics, freshwater and marine invasion biology, genomics, and marine policy test predictions about past and future invasions by detecting the presence of species using DNA sequencing extracted from water samples taken in or near ports. Large changes in the shipping network are being driven by creation and expansion of new ports, the expansion of the Panama Canal, changes in ballast water practices and policies, and changes in climate such as the opening of Arctic shipping lanes as sea ice declines.

This project will advance the science of big data networks, improve cutting-edge genetic sequences methods from environmental samples, and increase the net benefits of shipping via improved information provided to the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and policy-makers.  Improved knowledge of the risk of invasion provided by this project will inform port managers, ship operators, and policy-makers who can identify opportunities for the most cost effective reductions in risk in order to maximize the benefits of shipping.

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