HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Matthew Johnston

Second Advisor

David Kerstetter

Third Advisor

Bernhard Riegl


Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are biological pollutants that cause detrimental ecological, economic, and sociological effects on non-native communities. With increasing globalization through maritime trade, coastal ports are vulnerable to AIS introductions transported by commercial vessels. As Cuba’s Port Mariel becomes a competitive transshipment hub within the Caribbean, it is essential to identify the potential threat that AIS may pose with a likely increase in shipping activity. It is equally important to understand the status of established AIS in Cuba and control measures presently being implemented by the country. This information can provide guidance for establishing or improving Cuban AIS preventative and remedial actions. For this study, publically accessible information was used to conduct threat assessments of present and potential AIS in Cuba and to identify feasible international donors of AIS due to trade with Port Mariel. Fifteen species were identified as established Cuban AIS, eight of which were associated with harmful impacts to the environment, economy, and human health. Only one established AIS, Perna viridis (the Asian green mussel), was recorded as having repeated, negative influences in Cuba. Regional trade partners of Port Mariel were identified as the most likely donors of AIS due to ecological similarity and minimal voyage duration between countries. These trade partners also represented the busiest ports and transshipment hubs in the wider Caribbean region and, therefore, could expose Port Mariel to ‘stepping-stone’ invasions. Five species associated with international trade partners were identified as potentially detrimental to Cuba if introduced into Port Mariel. There were no significant differences between the salinity and temperature tolerances of the AIS already established in Cuba and the possible AIS of concern, suggesting that these potential invaders could survive the environmental conditions of Port Mariel and subsequently become established throughout Cuba. The results presented herein are a preliminary assessment of AIS threats in Cuba and emphasize the importance of prioritizing AIS prevention and management. This study also establishes a baseline inventory of potential AIS in Cuba and a methodology that can be followed for future analyses outside of the study region.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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