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Evaluating the potential of ecological niche modelling as a component in marine non-indigenous species risk assessments

: Leidenberger, S.; Obst, M.; Kulawik, R.; Stelzer, K.; Heyer, K.; Hardisty, A.; Bourlat, S.J.


Marine pollution bulletin 97 (2015), No.1-2, pp.470-487
ISSN: 0025-326X
ISSN: 1879-3363
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IAIS ()

Marine biological invasions have increased with the development of global trading, causing the homogenization of communities and the decline of biodiversity. A main vector is ballast water exchange from shipping. This study evaluates the use of ecological niche modelling (ENM) to predict the spread of 18 non-indigenous species (NIS) along shipping routes and their potential habitat suitability (hot/cold spots) in the Baltic Sea and Northeast Atlantic. Results show that, contrary to current risk assessment methods, temperature and sea ice concentration determine habitat suitability for 61% of species, rather than salinity (11%). We show high habitat suitability for NIS in the Skagerrak and Kattegat, a transitional area for NIS entering or leaving the Baltic Sea. As many cases of NIS introduction in the marine environment are associated with shipping pathways, we explore how ENM can be used to provide valuable information on the potential spread of NIS for ballast water risk assessment.