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Vol 38  No 16
June 29, 2006




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Researcher leads national network on coastal ecosystems

By Deborah Inkpen

Dr. Richard Rivkin of Memorial’s Ocean Sciences Centre is a principal investigator in the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network. (Photo by Chris Hammond)

Non-indigenous aquatic species which are introduced through discharged ballast water of commercial ships in Canadian ports are the leading cause of biodiversity loss in lake ecosystems. They are a growing concern to aquaculture in Canadian coastal ecosystems.

Dr. Richard Rivkin of Memorial’s Ocean Sciences Centre is a 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 the introduction and fate of these aquatic species in both Canadian lakes and marine waters on the east and west coasts of Canada.

Dr. Rivkin is studying the composition, physiology, introduction and survivorship of non-pathogenic microorganisms 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.

The network is based at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor and focuses on three main research themes: vectors (mode of transmission) and pathways (routes taken) of invasive, non-indigenous species entry into Canada; factors that affect successful establishment of invasive, non-indigenous species introduced to Canada’s aquatic ecosystems; risk assessment and mitigation strategies.

Dr. Rivkin is carrying out research in two or three theme areas ­ vectors and pathways ­ of invasive species introduction, and factors affecting successful establishment of the invading species. This research will support graduate students and a post-doctoral fellow at Memorial University.

The Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network, the first of its kind, has researchers from the University of Windsor, York University, Queens University, University of Toronto, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Waterloo, McGill University, Université Laval, Université du Québec à Montréal, Memorial University, Mount Allison University, University of Prince Edward Island, University of New Brunswick and Université du Québec à Rimouski.

CAISN received $3,782,000 in funding from NSERC, $1 million from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, $500,000 from Transport Canada, $360,00 from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and more than $40,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Network Partners include Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada, the Shipping Federation of Canada and participation by the ports of Halifax and Vancouver and the British Columbia Chamber of Shipping; Prince Edward Island Aquaculture Alliance; Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and its sister NGOs across Canada.

The Shipping Federation of Canada will provide access to vessels bound for Canada to study what species are entering the country in ballast water or fouled to hulls of vessels. Scientists will sample ships on the east and west coasts and in the Great Lakes over a two-year period.

Studies will be conducted from summer 2006 to 2011.


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