Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 295–308 | Cite as

Relative risk assessment for ballast-mediated invasions at Canadian Arctic ports

  • Farrah T. Chan
  • Sarah A. Bailey
  • Chris J. Wiley
  • Hugh J. MacIsaac
Original Paper


Vector-based risk assessment is a powerful and efficient management approach for nonindigenous species (NIS). By managing a vector, an entire assemblage of associated NIS is simultaneously considered. The majority of current risk assessment frameworks have been conducted for a single, or selected few, target species and thus are not useful for managing vectors transporting a large number of potentially unknown species. Here we develop a predictive framework to assess relative invasion risk for a vector (ballast water) transporting an unknown species assemblage, using the Canadian Arctic as a case study. Ballast water discharge is a known high-risk vector globally, but its magnitude in the Arctic has not been well characterized. Our framework determined relative invasion risks between different transit pathways by quantifying the probability of NIS successfully transiting all stages of the invasion process and the magnitude of consequences of introduction to those ports. Churchill, Manitoba was ranked at ‘higher’ invasion risk via ballast water discharged by international merchant vessels than any other recipient port studied. The overall pattern of ballast water discharge suggests that water originating from coastal domestic sources carried by international merchant vessels may be important for dispersal of NIS. In addition, ballast-mediated NIS are more likely to arrive to the Hudson Bay region during summer months. These results can be useful for developing prevention and early detection programs for the region. Our risk assessment framework is not limited to ballast water and could be applied to other vectors for effective management of NIS.


Arctic Ballast water Biological invasions Climate change Risk prediction Vector management 



We thank the Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada and Dr. R. Keller for access to data, and C. Gravel, S. Santavy and M. Deneau for assistance with data summary and analysis. Comments from Dr. Jeb Byers and two anonymous reviewers are greatly appreciated. We are grateful for funding from Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the NSERC Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (CAISN) and NSERC Discovery Grants to SAB and HJM, and NSERC CGSD2 and Ontario Graduate Scholarships to FTC.

Supplementary material

10530_2012_284_MOESM1_ESM.doc (460 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 173 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farrah T. Chan
    • 1
  • Sarah A. Bailey
    • 2
  • Chris J. Wiley
    • 3
  • Hugh J. MacIsaac
    • 1
  1. 1.Great Lakes Institute for Environmental ResearchUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Fisheries and Oceans CanadaGreat Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic SciencesBurlingtonCanada
  3. 3.Fisheries and Oceans/Transport Canada Marine SafetySarniaCanada

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