The risk of marine bioinvasions is the topic that will be analyzed by the initiative that awarded the Fondecyt Regular 2023 contest.
Invasions of non-native species, that is, species that come from other parts of the world, especially through maritime transport, are one of the main threats to native biodiversity and a source of risk for the biosecurity of countries.
Being able to estimate the real risk that maritime transport has for biosafety and marine biodiversity in Chile, and thus be able to contribute to the implementation of mechanisms that can reduce this risk, is what the project that was awarded the Fondecyt Regular 2023 contest hopes to achieve. “Marine bioinvasion and biosecurity on the Southeastern Pacific Coast: early detection and anthropic and natural mechanisms of introduction, spread and invasion”, whose director is academic from the Science Faculty from UCSC, Dr. Antonio Brante.
“In the project we will study the potential risk that merchant maritime transport, both local and international, poses for the introduction and spread of marine invasive species on the coasts of Chile. In addition, we will evaluate some ecological variables, as well as the dynamics of maritime transport, aspects that could affect the success for a new species to establish itself. We will carry out sampling of ballast water and the hulls of different types of ships to study the species they transport, as well as field experiments to evaluate the presence of these species”, explained the researcher.
At the international level, there are agreements on good practices focused on ensuring that the danger of invasions of marine species by maritime transport is as low as possible.
“Chile, being a maritime country, unfortunately has not yet signed these agreements, and as a research team we want to contribute with information and knowledge to influence national policies in this area in some way,” said Dr. Brante.
As explained by the academic, another of the associated problems is that in Chile knowledge about native marine species is limited, as well as about potential non-native species that have arrived in the country from other places.
In this way, the UCSC researcher pointed out that “we also do not know much about the impact that these non-native species have on our ecosystems. In the project we will carry out an extensive sampling of both national and international ships in different ports of Chile, in order to assess the real danger that exists on our coasts”.