There are relatively few non-native species in the Bering Sea. However, Arctic regions are expected to become more susceptible to biological invasions. Changes in vessel activity and climate are predicted to increase the probabilities of successful introduction and establishment. Given the importance of the Bering Sea to Alaskans and the current lack of knowledge on this topic, evaluating the potential threat of non-native species is needed.
We conducted a risk assessment for the Bering Sea that included 1) profile reports of important non-native species; 2) a ranking system, which we used to assess the risk each species posed to the Bering Sea; 3) habitat suitability models for these species under current and future climate scenarios; 4) an analysis of shipping traffic to the region to identify ports of entry for invasive species.
Our ranking system evaluates the potential threat of non-native taxa to the Bering Sea. Each species is evaluated and scored independently following an in-depth literature review. Overall scores can range from 0 (least threat) to 100 (highest threat). The system contains 33 questions grouped into 5 categories. A score is calculated for each question based on the response selected. The ranking system can account for missing data by calculating the final score based only on known answers. We evaluated a total of 46 taxa that occur in the Bering Sea and nearby marine ecoregions.
This project was made possible through funding from the North Pacific Research Board (project #1523) and the Aleutian and Bering Sea Islands LCC (ABSI LCC). Tracey Gotthardt and Aaron Poe were instrumental in developing this project. Casey Greenstein, Lindsey Flagstad, Catie Bursche, Jaime Weltfelt, and Curtis Whisman contributed to developing the ranking system and the species status reports. Thank you to Jennifer Dijkstra, Nora Foster, Kelly Krueger, Linda Shaw, Christina Simkanin, and Peter Westley for the time and energy they put into the expert review process.