Transportation

  • Boats in Puerto Aroya
    Recreational boats in Puerto Aroya, Galápagos, Ecuador. Photo by Linda McCann
  • Locks of Panama Canal
    Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal. Photo by Kristen Larson

Research Labs

Since humans first began migration and travel across the earth, we have purposely or unwittingly moved living organisms with us. Frequently this has meant carrying species beyond their native geographic ranges, a process that has sometimes resulted in the establishment of non-native species populations. As the number of humans has increased, our modes of transportation have changed resulting in faster travel and ever expanding economic markets. Today, people and goods can move across the planet in a day or less. With more people traveling more quickly to more places, the opportunities for biological invasions increases. Understanding the impacts of transportation on the translocation of species near and far is complicated and involves many components.  The number of transits, the number of species and types of life stages (such as seeds, eggs, larvae, resting stages, juveniles, and adults) delivered, the climate and environmental match among source and recipient regions, and the physiological tolerance of the organism being moved all factor into the success or failure of biological invasions. Additionally, changes to spatial and temporal patterns of transportation are driven by shifts in local, regional, and international markets as well as technological advancements. Understanding how modes of human transportation affect the environment, and biological invasions in particular, requires a grasp of both human history and natural history.  Across marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems alike, most invasions today result from human-aided species transfers, and invasion patterns are very much a reflection of human movements and the transportation systems we build and use.

Research Projects