At the beginning of a voyage, a taxonomically diverse assemblage of organisms is often entrained in a ship's ballast tanks. However, changes in the relative abundance of different organisms frequently occur during the voyage, and communities can be altered, both taxonomically and numerically. These changes can be influenced by a number of important factors:
- The nature and diversity of the source community
- The physical conditions within ballast tanks (e.g., temperature and salinity)
- The duration of the voyage
These factors impact the nature of the community subsequently released into a new habitat following ballast water discharge.
MIRL has several projects in this topic area, including experiments on zooplankton communities in ballast tanks.