, Volume 750, Issue 1, pp 171–185 | Cite as

Ecosystem impacts of the widespread non-indigenous species in the Baltic Sea: literature survey evidences major limitations in knowledge

  • Henn OjaveerEmail author
  • Jonne Kotta


Invasion of non-indigenous species (NIS) is acknowledged as one of the most important external drivers affecting structure and functions of marine ecosystems globally. This paper offers literature-based analysis on the effects of the widespread (occurring in at least 50% of countries) and currently established NIS on ecosystem features in the Baltic Sea. It appears that out of the 18 NIS taxa studied, there are no published records on 28% of NIS for any of the seven impact categories investigated. When ecological impacts are known, laboratory experimental evidence dominates over field studies. Combined observations on impact strength, information type and confidence level suggest that the two benthic invertebrates, the polychaete Marenzelleria spp. and the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas 1771) exert the highest ecosystem impact. Despite continuously accumulating information on the NIS effects, however, the confidence of findings is still low. Thus, we still understand very little on both the direction and magnitude of the effects of even the most widespread NIS on the structure and dynamics of the Baltic Sea ecosystems. In order to increase reliability of such assessments, future research should be targeted towards spatially-explicit field surveys and experimenting of multitrophic systems, together with modelling of ecosystem impact.


Non-native species Abiotic and biotic impacts Information type Effect magnitude Confidence level 



This work was partially financed by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (Grant SF0180005s10) and Institutional research funding IUT02-20 of the Estonian Research Council. The research leading to these results has also received funding from BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme (Art 185), funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration, and from the Estonian Research Council (BIO-C3 project). The research leading to these results has also received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (FP7/2007-2013) within the Ocean of Tomorrow call under Grant Agreement No. 266445 for the project Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors (VECTORS).

Conflict of interest

There are no conflict of interests.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTallinnEstonia

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