Atlas of nonindigenous marine and estuarine species in the North Pacific

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Executive Summary

Marine and estuarine nonindigenous species (NIS) are found across the world’s oceans, and designing effective management strategies to mitigate this economic, ecological and human health threat requires a basic understanding of the existing invasion patterns at regional to global scales. However, to date, syntheses at ocean basin scales have essentially been nonexistent. To fill the gap for the North Pacific, we synthesized the distributions, invasion history, environmental tolerances, and natural history of the near-coastal nonindigenous species (NIS) reported from the member countries of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES; United States, Canada, China, Republic of Korea, Japan, and Russia). The hierarchical “Marine Ecoregions of the World” (MEOW) biogeographic schema was used as the framework for assessing species’ distributions, with the modification that we added a “region” level to differentiate eastern and western sides of oceans. The two North Pacific regions are the Northeast Pacific (NEP), which extends from the Gulf of California to the Aleutian Islands, and the Northwest Pacific (NWP), which extends from the East China Sea to the Kamchatka Shelf. To have complete coverage of the United States, we included the MEOW Hawaii Ecoregion as a separate reporting unit. To have complete coverage of Japan and China, we combined five MEOW ecoregions in southern China and Japan into the North Central-Indo Pacific (NCIP) Region. The various types of information were synthesized in a Microsoft Access database, the “PICES Nonindigenous Species Information System”, which is further described in the “User’s Guide and Metadata for the PICES Nonindigenous Species Information System” (Lee et al., 2012). The PICES database was then used to generate two-page “species profiles” that map the native and introduced distributions of each species and provide a standardized summary of its invasion history, environmental tolerances, and natural history. These species profiles form the bulk of the “Atlas of Nonindigenous Marine and Estuarine Species in the North Pacific”.

A total of 747 near-coastal nonindigenous species were identified in the PICES countries, with four phyla (Arthropoda, Chordata, Mollusca, and Annelida) constituting more than 70% of these invaders. The NEP and Hawaii have similar numbers of reported nonindigenous species, 368 and 347, respectively. In comparison, the NWP has about 60% of the number of reported NIS, 208. The NCIP contains only 73 NIS, though there is limited information for these ecoregions. When evaluated at an individual MEOW ecoregion scale, the Hawaii Ecoregion was the most invaded with 347 invaders, followed by the Northern California Ecoregion, which includes the San Francisco Estuary, with 287 NIS. The most invaded ecoregion in the NWP was the Central Kuroshio Current Ecoregion, which includes Tokyo Bay, with 87 reported NIS. Eight potential reasons for this geographical discrepancy in the extent of invasion were considered. The two most important appear to be: 1) the milder temperature regimes in the NEP and Hawaii are more conducive for NWP species to invade the NEP and Hawaii than the reverse and 2) there has been a greater search effort for NIS in Hawaii and the NEP at least for certain taxonomic groups.

In terms of how the NIS were transported, hull fouling was potentially the most important vector in the NEP, NWP, and Hawaii, with ballast water discharges the second most important in all three regions. Intentional stocking and aquaculture escapees were relatively more important in the NWP than the NEP or Hawaii, reflecting the extensive aquaculture in Asia. Aquaculture associated species (i.e., aquaculture hitchhikers) was relatively important in the NEP, reflecting the historical influx of invaders with the importation of Atlantic and Pacific oysters. 

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Atlas of nonindigenous marine and estuarine species in the North Pacific
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description xxv,1915
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details