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Coastal ship traffic: a significant introduction vector for potentially harmful dinoflagellates in eastern Canada

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We examined the risk of introduction associated with potentially toxic or otherwise harmful algae (HA) or nonindigenous species (NIS) of dinoflagellates in ballast water from 63 commercial ships visiting ports of eastern Canada in 2007–2009. Ship categories included transoceanics undergoing ballast water exchange (BWE) and coastal ships with or without BWE. Of 159 species of dinoflagellates observed in Lugol-preserved samples, 15 were potential HA (six Dinophysis spp.) and 46 were NIS (including three HA). We found at least one species of HA in 81% of all ships examined, and maximum cell concentrations reached nearly 4000 cells·L–1. Coastal nonexchanged tankers carried the greatest cell concentrations of HA. NIS dinoflagellates were found in 56% of ships, significantly more in ships with BWE. There was no evidence that ships with BWE contained significantly fewer taxa or lower concentrations of HA dinoflagellates, indicating that BWE is not efficient in controlling the introduction of these organisms. In fact, BWE promoted the transport of NIS dinoflagellates, possibly because of the wide distribution of several of these species. Coastal ship traffic is a significant introduction pathway for HA (ships with and without BWE) and NIS (ships with BWE) dinoflagellates in eastern Canada.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-04-08

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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