Towards minimizing transport of aquatic nuisance species in ballast water: Do organisms in different size classes respond uniformly to biocidal treatment?

Abstract

To reduce the transport and delivery of aquatic nuisance species in ships’ ballast water and comply with standards for the number of living organisms that may be discharged, biocidal agents and processes, such as chemical dosing, have been repurposed to treat ballast water. We evaluated whether marine planktonic organisms—the typical targets of these biocides—respond in unison to simulated treatment. Organisms were concentrated from seawater, which was amended with dissolved and particulate matter and cultured microalgae, and then treated by chlorination, ultraviolet radiation, or deoxygenation. Living organisms in three size classes (≥50, ≥10 and <50, and <10 µm [represented by culturable, heterotrophic bacteria]) were counted prior to and periodically after treatment. Regardless of whether the differences in concentrations between the control and treatments were significant or insignificant, in general, organisms across the size classes reacted comparably to treatments, with some exceptions in the <10 µm size class. The parallel responses of organisms to treatment—if shown to generalize to other water conditions, assemblages of organisms, and scales of treatment—may justify using a single size class to predict the responses of organisms across the broad size spectra. Notably, because most ballast water management systems employ a filtration step to remove organisms ≥50 µm, if organisms in the ≥10 and <50 µm size class were assessed to determine a vessel’s compliance with the discharge standard, it would be imperative that any filters would be evaluated to ensure they were functioning properly and removed organisms as designed.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Environmental Standards Division [CG-OES-3, (contract # HSCG23-13-X-MMS106, Task 5.3)] and does not represent official USCG policy. We are grateful to Richard Everett and Regina Bergner (USCG) for advice and guidance with this work. The work conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in Key West was supported by Diane Lysogorski (Section Head, Naval Research Laboratory Code 6136 and Director, Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering, Key West, FL). Cameron Moser (Excet, Inc.) assisted with the field experiments, for which we are grateful. We are appreciative of the comments and suggestions from Jim Carlton (Editor, Biological Invasions) and three anonymous reviewers. The reviews of this paper by Vanessa Molina (Excet, Inc.), Diane Lysogorski, Edward Lemieux (Branch Head, Code 6130) and Barry Spargo (Acting Superintendent, Chemistry Division, Naval Research Laboratory) improved it—thank you.

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Correspondence to Matthew R. First.

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First, M.R., Robbins-Wamsley, S.H., Riley, S.C. et al. Towards minimizing transport of aquatic nuisance species in ballast water: Do organisms in different size classes respond uniformly to biocidal treatment?. Biol Invasions 18, 647–660 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-015-1036-7

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Keywords

  • Ballast water management systems
  • Aquatic nuisance species
  • Microalgae
  • Shipping