Biological Invasions

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 251-261

First online:

Identifying Hazards in Complex Ecological Systems. Part 2: Infection Modes and Effects Analysis for Biological Invasions

  • Keith R. HayesAffiliated withCentre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests, CSIRO Division of Marine Research

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This paper describes a rigorous and systematic hazard analysis, called infection modes and effects analysis (named after its industrial counterpart failure modes and effect analysis (FMEA)), which was used to investigate the potential spread of marine organisms by human vectors. The analysis was conducted using small craft as a model system and implemented through nine workshops targeted at owners and operators of fishing vessels, motor cruisers, yachts and trailerable boats, operating out of local ports in southeastern Australia. It identified seven vessel components, divided into various sub-components, and eight infection modes. Each sub-component/infection mode combination represents a possible vector for the spread of marine organisms. The analysis identified a total of 215 sub-component/infection mode combinations for displacement vessels and a further 71 combinations for trailerable vessels, which were then prioritised. Water retention and internal fouling of seawater and grey water inlets, internal fouling of sonar tubes and water (and sediment) retention in sewage holding tanks were identified as the main vectors of a displacement vessel. The burley bucket and water (and sediment) retention in the anchor well and bilge pump were identified as the main vectors of a trailerable vessel. This is the first time that FMEA, or a variant of it, has been applied to biological invasions. The analysis demonstrates that rigorous hazard identification techniques, originally designed for complex industrial systems, can be modified for use in ecological systems.

biological invasions ecological risk assessment hazard analysis risk priority number small boats