New paper assigns dollar figure to cost from ship-borne invasive species to the Great Lakes

Mar 29, 2012

Although there has been growing recognition among researchers and policy-makers that ship-borne invasive species cause a considerable economic toll, this environmental problem often goes unaddressed because of the difficulty in quantifying annual impacts on ecosystem services.

However, a new paper by researchers from the University of Notre Dame, the University of Wyoming and the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, assigns a dollar figure on the cost to the from that originate in the ballast water of ocean-going vessels.

David M. Lodge and John D. Rothlisberger of Notre Dame, David C. Finnoff of Wyoming and Roger M Cooke of Delft determined that the median estimate of damages is $138 million annually but could be over $800 million annually.

The researchers used structured expert judgment and economic analysis to determine the figure. They note that the economic analyses employed in their estimate of damages are far more accurate than previous attempts at calculating the damages caused by invasions, yet are probably underestimates for the U.S. side of the Great Lakes basin. Canadian costs were not included.

Using the group's median value of $138 million, replacing shipping with other modes of transportation might bring net benefits to society in about 30 to 50 years. Using the higher values of damages in the same calculations would suggest that net benefits would occur much sooner.

By converting the impacts into dollar values, the researchers have provided benchmarks that could be used to evaluate the benefits of policy and management choices to reduce the probability of future invasions (for example, stringent requirements for ballast water treatment and inspection on ships).

The researchers' approach to assessing ecosystem-scale effects of invasive species also provides a template for evaluating policy and management alternatives to prevent, or mitigate, many kinds of environmental damage.

The research paper appears in the journal Ecosystems.

Explore further: Japan to redesign Antarctic whale hunt after UN court ruling

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Great Lakes invasive species studied

May 23, 2006

The longstanding problem of various invasive species entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway is now gaining attention from scientists.

Evaluating ecosystem services

Aug 05, 2008

Environmental conservation efforts have traditionally focused on protecting individual species or natural resources. Scientists are discovering, however, that preserving the benefits that whole ecosystems provide to people ...

11,000 alien species invade Europe

Nov 20, 2008

For the first time it is now possible to get a comprehensive overview of which alien species are present in Europe, their impacts and consequences for the environment and society. More than 11,000 alien species have been ...

Great Lakes cleanup may reap big benefits

Sep 07, 2007

A Brookings Institution study suggested that restoring the health of the U.S. Great Lakes could create $50 billion in economic benefit for the area.

Recommended for you

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

2 hours ago

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

India's ancient mammals survived multiple pressures

22 hours ago

Most of the mammals that lived in India 200,000 years ago still roam the subcontinent today, in spite of two ice ages, a volcanic super-eruption and the arrival of people, a study reveals.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jimee
not rated yet Mar 30, 2012
Not to worry. The corporations responsible for this destruction through intentional carelessness to raise their own profits are all safe. They will not have to pay.

More news stories

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...