Aquatic Invasion Ecology (FSH 423)

Instructor: Julian D. Olden

Office Location: Fisheries Science Building, Room 317A

Office hours: Monday 1:30 - 3:00 

Contact information: phone: 616-3112; email:

Class hours: Lecture: M & W @ 10:30-11:20 (Rm 109), Discussion: M @11:30-12:20 & 12:30-1:20 (Rm 109)

Prerequisite(s): Either BIOL 162 or BIOL 180

Offered: NEXT OFFERED Fall 2014

Humans have a noteworthy ability for introducing species to areas beyond their native range, giving the potential for these species to become biological invaders.  The global epidemic of invasive species is rampant, representing a leading threat to national economies, human health, and cause tremendous ecological damage ranging from the extinction of native species to alteration of ecosystem processes.  The negative impacts of invasive species are particularly evident in aquatic environments, including the Pacific Northwest, whose native freshwater and marine biodiversity is under increasing threat from countless invasive species.  Consequently, the management of aquatic invasive species is a critical conservation challenge for the 21st century.


The objective of this course is to provide an understanding of the patterns, drivers and consequences of species invasions in freshwater, estuary and marine ecosystems.  We will accomplish this through a combination of lectures that will examine various elements of the invasion process, followed by the discussion of case studies. 

  • The first part of the course will provide an overview of the problem, focusing on global pathways and patterns of aquatic invaders in freshwater and marine ecosystems. 
  • The second part of the course will explore the entire invasion process, from initial introduction to a foreign area, to the establishment of a self-sustaining population and integration into native communities.  These lectures will focus on the underlying theory and empirical evidence for each invasion stage illustrated through a number of case studies. 
  • The third part of the course will focus on the management approaches needed to prevent, control and eradicate invasive species, including current state and federal legislation for invasive species. 

As a result of this course, students will have a strong understanding of the patterns, processes and consequences of species invasions in aquatic ecosystems. 


This course will consist of two 50-minute lectures per week.  Lectures will emphasize main concepts from invasion ecology, illustrated with examples from freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Exams:  There will be two exams - a mid-term (20% of final grade) and a final (30%).  They will cover the assigned reading and material covered in lecture.  The 50-minute midterm exam and 2-hour final exam will consist of short essays. 

Discussion Group: Each week we will discuss 2-3 scientific papers in a small group.  The discussion period will be led by a student (that’s you!) who will be responsible for leading the discussion and promoting conversation. You will be evaluated on your leadership and participation during all discussions (10% of final grade). Articles (PDF) are posted on Catalyst.

Short Assignments: You will be required to provide a 1-page perspective (i.e., identifying novel aspects and/or providing a critical critique) of both scientific articles for each of the discussion periods (15% of final grade). The assignment should be single spaced in 11-point font and 1 inch margins. These will be due at the discussion period (Monday) and assigned the previously week.

Final Assignment: A significant portion of your grade is based on a final written report (25% of final grade).  In order to successfully complete the final assignment you will need to understand the material presented in lecture and discussion group.  Detailed instructions for the final assignment are provided below.

Your final written report will consist of a review paper exploring the ecology of an invasive species in the Pacific Northwest.  The species must have an established population in Washington, Oregon, Idaho or western British Columbia.  The recent publication “Invasive Species in the Pacific Northwest” by Boersma et al. (2006) and the Prohibited Aquatic Animal Species list by the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife ( provide good lists of species. You can explore the USGS Non-indigenous Aquatic Species database ( for species that occur in the Pacific Northwest. Your report must be 15-25 double-spaced pages (with figures and tables embedded) and consist of the following sections:

1.     Diagnostic information

a.  Scientific name (Order/Family/Genus/Species)

b.  Common name(s)

c.  Photos/Detailed illustrations

d.  Basic identification key

2.     Life-history and basic ecology

a.  Life cycle

b.  Feeding habits

c.  Reproductive strategies

d.  Environmental optima and tolerances

e.  Biotic associations (pathogens, parasites, and commensals)

3.     Current geographic distribution

a.  Distribution in the PNW and the United States (map)

4.     History of invasiveness

5.     Invasion process

a.  Pathways, vectors and routes of introduction

b.  Factors influencing establishment and spread

c.  Potential ecological and/or economic impacts

6.     Management strategies and control methods

7.     Literature cited (follow the style of the journal Biological Invasions) (no URL references!)

8.     Other key sources of information and bibliographies (web sites)

9.     Expert contact information in PNW

10.   Current research and management efforts

Lockwood, J. L., Hoopes, M. F., and M. P. Marchetti. 2007. Invasion Ecology. Blackwell Publishing. We will also read selected articles from journals, books, and other published literature.  These will be available as PDFs through the course’s website.



  • Invasive species – what’s the big deal?
  • Conceptual models and ecological theory of the invasion process
  • Vectors and pathways of species introductions
  • Propagule pressure
  • Species establishment: Species’ profiling
  • Species establishment: Environmental controls and Biological controls
  • Ecological impacts of invasive species
  • Evolutionary impacts of invasive species
  • Economic impacts of invasive species
  • Preventative approaches (risk analysis) to species invasions
  • Invasive species education
  • Invasion species control and eradication