Marine Invasive Species in the Galapagos Marine Reserve

  • Inti Keith

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Marine biological invasions have increased significantly in recent years due to global trade, transport and tourism. Invasions occur when species get transported from one region to another and establish themselves in the new habitat. These species compete for space and resources, displacing native species and changing, populations and communities. Invasive non-native species are the number one threat to Galapagos ecosystems and although many preventive and corrective measures have been applied to terrestrial problems, the impacts of invasive non-native species in the marine environment has received relatively little attention to date. The marine ecosystems of Galapagos harbour distinctive biological communities given a unique confluence of currents in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP). They sustain a high incidence of endemic species, which are regularly subjected to extreme climate variability through El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. This research examines the negative impacts that marine non-native species can have on the biodiversity, ecosystem services and the health of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR). Baseline surveys revealed nine marine non-native species present in the GMR at this time and the potential for the impacts of high-risk species for the GMR examined. Furthermore international marine traffic was analysed resulting in Panama and Guayaquil being identified as the hotspots for the translocation of marine no-native species to the Galapagos. A species based exposure model produced a list of 469 high-risk species that could have arrived in the GMR during 2013 from 14 different regions worldwide. Additionally, natural vectors were assessed as well as natural processes enhanced by anthropogenic activity. These results reflect the considerable risk that these vectors pose in the translocation of marine non-native species, furthermore ENSO events and global climate change were identified as major threats to the marine ecosystems of the GMR due to the increase in SST. Species distribution models are presented for 19 high-risk non-native species and the open niche scenario is described as the biggest threat the GMR is facing with the arrival of non-native species regardless as to how these species arrive through anthropogenic or natural vectors. Several risk assessments are presented and discussed in order to provide management strategies for decision makers in the GMR.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsDarwin Initiative, Galapagos Conservancy, Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic , The Rufford Foundation & World Wide Fund for Nature
    SupervisorTerence Dawson (Supervisor) & Ken Collins (Supervisor)

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