Global hot spots of biological invasions: evaluating options for ballast-water management.


Biological invasions from ballast water are a severe environmental threat and exceedingly costly to society. We identify global hot spots of invasion based on worldwide patterns of ship traffic. We then estimate the rate of port-to-port invasion using gravity models for spatial interactions, and we identify bottlenecks to the regional exchange of species using the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm for network flows. Finally, using stochastic simulations of different strategies for controlling ballast-water introductions, we find that reducing the per-ship-visit chance of causing invasion is more effective in reducing the rate of biotic homogenization than eliminating key ports that are the epicentres for global spread.

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