President's Report 2007

On the hunt for aquatic invaders

Dr. Richard Rivkin

Dr. Richard Rivkin of Memorialís Ocean Sciences Centre is looking for invaders; invaders of the aquatic kind. Ones that lurk in the ballast water of commercial ships and threaten the biodiversity of ecosystems. Heís the principal investigator in the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (CAISN), a newly-funded Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) research network that is studying how invasive aquatic species are introduced and then survive in Canadian lakes and marine waters on the east and west coasts of Canada. Here in Canada the increase in invasive species, introduced through discharged ballast water of ships in Canadian ports, is the leading cause of biodiversity loss in lake ecosystems. Itís a growing concern to aquaculture in Canadian coastal ecosystems.

Dr. Rivkin is studying the composition, physiology, introduction and survivorship of invasive species in the ballast water of commercial ships that originate in the United States, Europe and (in collaboration with colleagues in British Columbia) Asia, and discharge their ballast in Canadian ports. Ballast water is carried by ships that are not carrying cargo and is used to stabilize the vessel while in motion.

Based at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor, the invasive species network is the first of its kind. Dr. Rivikin and his colleagues are focused on three main research themes including how species are introduced, what factors influence their survival and successful establishment and what kind of risk they present to ecosystems. They are also looking at how to mitigate the impact of these species.