Lab Canada

Invasive species research draws national funding

Windsor, ON – Three University of Windsor researchers have received nearly $160,000 in funding to help stop the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes, winning out over 16 competing national submissions.

The Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (CAISN) awarded $108,500 to Sarah Bailey, an adjunct professor in the department of earth sciences at the University of Windsor, and zooplankton scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She will lead a team of two other scientists from the University of Toronto on the three-year project, the hydrodynamics of discharged ballast water.

Dennis Higgs, an associate professor in the University of Windsor’s department of biology, and Daniel Heath, a professor at the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, and Canada research chair in conservation genetics, received $50,600 from CAISN for the project, Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of round gobies at an invasion front: factors influencing round goby expansion.

Scientists say ballast water in commercial ships is responsible for 65% of the aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels and round goby, which have arrived in the Great Lakes since 1959. Dr Bailey and her team will study what takes place after ballast water is released in select port locations. This data will enable researchers to make predictions about the rate of dispersal and directional pathways of ballast water and evaluate the effectiveness of international ballast water discharge standards.

Drs Higgs and Heath will study the spread of the round goby (Neogobious melanostomus) – the fastest spreading vertebrate ever reported, and a species that reached all five of the Great Lakes within five years after first being reported in 1990. The team will examine how the round goby transport, disperse and proliferate in regions after they arrive and how they disperse in tributary rivers and attached water bodies. Researchers will use this information to study specific control options aimed at reducing the goby’s future spread.

CAISN is funded largely by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).