Mechanisms and Ecological Impacts of Planktonic Invasions in the Pacific Northwest

EPA Grant Number: FP917809
Title: Mechanisms and Ecological Impacts of Planktonic Invasions in the Pacific Northwest
Investigators: Dexter, Eric David
Institution: Washington State University at Vancouver
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2018
Project Amount: $132,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


Utilizing a series of planktonic invasions in the Pacific Northwest as a model system, this work aims to address the following questions: 1) By what dispersal mechanism do planktonic invaders spread across estuarine systems? 2) How do patterns of genetic connectivity between invasive populations correlate with commercial shipping routes? 3) What environmental factors determine susceptibility or resistance to planktonic invasions? 4) How will future climate scenarios affect the distribution and severity of aquatic invasions across the Pacific Northwest?


This work employs a mixed-methodological approach that integrates genetic sequencing of invasive organisms, development of ecological models, and multivariate statistical analysis of community data. This work is built upon several ongoing time-series of plankton community data collected at fixed locations across the Pacific Northwest for more than twenty years.

Expected Results:

The expected results of this study are threefold. The first result will be a greatly improved understanding of ecological interactions between native and invasive planktonic organisms. The second result will be a multivariate statistical analysis of long-term community changes associated with Pacific Northwest plankton invasions. The third major result will be the development of a set of genetically explicit mixed-migration models that can be broadly applied to predict the spread of present and future aquatic invasions.

Supplemental Keywords:

Plankton, copepods, invasion, MAR models, RADseq, genetic simulation, aquatic ecology, estuary, rivers

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016
  • 2017
  • Final