Network Organization

The Marine Lab

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  • coastal communities,
  • ocean management
Target Group
  • Researchers,
  • Policy makers,
  • Students
  • English

Our changing oceans: where marine invasions and ocean acidification meet

This lab focuses predominantly on understanding what regulates the spread and patterns of marine invasions and on quantifying the impacts of these species around the South African coast. While we strive towards academic excellence, we are conscious of the need for applied science that crosses the divide between research, management and society at large (especially in a developing nation like South Africa). As such, our lab undertakes research of the highest standards that is both relevant and topical.

Intra-regional spread of marine aliens
While much research has focused on the global transfer of marine species, comparatively less attention has been paid to understanding drivers of regional spread. In current work we are surveying regional harbours and quantifying the role of recreational yachts in the movement of marine alien species. South Africa offers an interesting place to study this topic with its 3650 km long coastline that spans three biogeographic regions.

The role biotic and abiotic regulation of marine invasive species
The ability of an alien species to spread in a new region is governed by a complex interplay between environmental regulation and biotic interactions. This area of research is particularly interesting in light of current changes in climate and very relevant in terms of the challenges such changes may pose for the management of marine invasive species.

Quantifying impacts
Despite the fact that marine invasions can have impacts on the ecology, socio-economics and human health of recipient regions, these impacts are seldom quantified and rarely are all three spheres of impacts considered. In an effort to address this issue we are interested in the holistic assessment of impacts of a variety of species known to be alien to the South African coast.

Intersections between climate change and invasions
In recognition of the fact that drivers of global change do not act in isolation, we have began investigating how invasions may be affected by changes in ocean temperature and carbon chemistry. As no information exists on carbon chemistry in the nearshore environment along the South Africa coast we are establishing baseline data for seven sites (including three estuaries) along the west and south coasts of South Africa.  This will provide insight into the temporal and spatial variability of ocean pH, alkalinity and temperature in the region. Importantly this information is feeding into the design of field relevant laboratory experiments. This work will build on our current knowledge and extend local and international understanding of the interactive effects of two important drivers of global change.