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Overland transport of recreational boats as a spreading vector of zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha


De Ventura, Lukas; Weissert, Nora; Tobias, Robert; Kopp, Kirstin; Jokela, Jukka (2016). Overland transport of recreational boats as a spreading vector of zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha. Biological Invasions, 18(5):1451-1466.

Abstract

In aquatic ecosystems invasive species are among the most important threats to biodiversity worldwide. Understanding the dispersal mechanisms of aquatic invaders is very important for protection and management of vulnerable water bodies. Here we ask how recreational boats that are transported overland could contribute to the dispersal of invasive zebra mussels among lakes in Switzerland. Using a questionnaire sent to registered boat owners, we surveyed properties of transported boats and collected information on self-reported mussel fouling and transport activities of boat owners. We also sampled boat hulls at launching ramps and harbors for biofouling invertebrates. Boats that were kept seasonally or year-round in water were found to have high vector potential with mussel fouling rates of more than 40 %. However, only about 6 % of boats belonging to these groups were transported overland to other water bodies. Considering that approximately 100,000 recreational boats are registered in Switzerland, we estimated that every year around 1400 boats fouled with mussels are transported overland. Such boats pose a high risk of distributing zebra mussels between water bodies. Our results suggest that there is a considerable risk that recreational boats may spread new fouling species to all navigable water bodies within the study area. We speculate that one such species could be the quagga mussel, which has not yet invaded lakes in Switzerland. On a more positive note, our study has identified the group of high-risk boats so that possible control measures would only affect a relatively small number of boat owners.

Abstract

In aquatic ecosystems invasive species are among the most important threats to biodiversity worldwide. Understanding the dispersal mechanisms of aquatic invaders is very important for protection and management of vulnerable water bodies. Here we ask how recreational boats that are transported overland could contribute to the dispersal of invasive zebra mussels among lakes in Switzerland. Using a questionnaire sent to registered boat owners, we surveyed properties of transported boats and collected information on self-reported mussel fouling and transport activities of boat owners. We also sampled boat hulls at launching ramps and harbors for biofouling invertebrates. Boats that were kept seasonally or year-round in water were found to have high vector potential with mussel fouling rates of more than 40 %. However, only about 6 % of boats belonging to these groups were transported overland to other water bodies. Considering that approximately 100,000 recreational boats are registered in Switzerland, we estimated that every year around 1400 boats fouled with mussels are transported overland. Such boats pose a high risk of distributing zebra mussels between water bodies. Our results suggest that there is a considerable risk that recreational boats may spread new fouling species to all navigable water bodies within the study area. We speculate that one such species could be the quagga mussel, which has not yet invaded lakes in Switzerland. On a more positive note, our study has identified the group of high-risk boats so that possible control measures would only affect a relatively small number of boat owners.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:21 Mar 2016 10:37
Last Modified:16 Apr 2016 01:04
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1387-3547
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1094-5

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