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Does a new transportation system increase the risk of importing non-native species to Antarctica?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 May 2012

Megumu Tsujimoto*
Affiliation:
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), 10-3, Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 8, Ichibancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8472, Japan
Satoshi Imura
Affiliation:
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), 10-3, Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan National Institute of Polar Research, 10-3, Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan

Abstract

Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems are not immune to the threat of biological invasions, and the urgent need for implementation of effective mitigation measures to minimize the risk has been highlighted. Recently, the transportation and logistic support system of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition has undergone substantial changes after the relocation of the cargo handling facility and the commissioning of a new icebreaker in 2009. The potential risk of introducing non-native species into Antarctica through the newly adopted cargo transportation system in comparison with the previously existing system was determined by quantifying both changes in the form of cargo transported and the frequency of propagule attachment on different types of cargo item. We obtained 1022 propagules of at least 26 species, including species known to have resistance to the stresses of cold environments. Larger numbers of propagules, and a greater proportion of affected cargo items, were encountered in the newly adopted transportation system than in its predecessor. The increased risks in the new system were identified as being associated with the major cargo packing type and the cargo storage location. Based upon those findings, we propose appropriate preventative measures in order to minimize the risk of transfer of non-native species into Antarctica.

Type
Biological Sciences
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2012

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