UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Research on marine coastal impacts to promote ecosystem-based management : nonnative species in northeast Pacific estuaries Mach, Megan Elizabeth


Ecosystem-based management (EBM) offers a holistic evaluation of tradeoffs between human activities, but this offer rests upon a foundation of science. In this thesis, I assessed and advanced the knowledge-base for EBM in five ways, focusing on nonnative species in estuarine ecosystems. In Chapter 2, I tested for the comprehensiveness of research that connects the impacts of anthropogenic activities to changes in ecosystem service production, employing a literature review of estuarine ecosystems. Research on these connections virtually never included the relationship of activities to ecosystem services production, presenting an impressive gap in research for evaluating tradeoffs using EBM. I addressed the sufficiency of existing information regarding nonnative species in eelgrass beds in Chapter 3. I tested the relationship of nonnative species in British Columbia’s (BC) eelgrass beds with arrival pathways and environmental selection factors. There were few (12) nonnatives in BC’s eelgrass; all associated most commonly with aquaculture facilities and warm temperatures. Existing reports included the majority of nonnatives: only one species, the bamboo worm Clymenella torquata, represented a new record, as I described in Chapter 4. Impacts of nonnatives are difficult to limit after invasion. In Chapter 5, I developed an approach for characterizing the potential economic impacts of nonnatives. I focused on European green crab, a nonnative species that has not yet arrived in Puget Sound, Washington. At a range of invasion densities and increasing calorie diets, I calculated a value-at-risk to shellfish harvest ranging from $1.6 - $41 million USD. Such calculations can aid in preparation for impending invasion by motivating prevention and mitigation efforts. Nonnative management is often based on the available understanding of the impacts on native species. In Chapter 6, I assessed available research on the impact of nonnative seagrass, Zostera japonica, in northeast Pacific estuaries. My results suggested existing studies that quantitatively test Z. japonica impacts are insufficient to comprehensively assess the effects of this invasion. My dissertation research highlights the need for research to determine the ecosystem role of nonnatives in their invaded range through analysis of quantitative studies across broad scales.

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