[Coral-List] Tubastrea corals and the terminology of marine introductions and invasions

Rob Hilliard, imco rhilliard at imco.com.au
Mon Apr 15 07:04:13 EDT 2013

Dear Coral-Listers

In Doug Fenner's recent post on the types and origins of Tubastrea 
corals in the Caribbean+GoM, his need to explain the different meanings 
of 'introduced' versus 'invasive' highlight how the jargon used in 
bioinvasion studies, policies and management continues to provide a 
confusing picture.

The understanding and management of bioinvasions remains an emerging, 
immature science, and its terminology continues to evolve but remain 
loose.   As Quine noted in 1946 (and picked up by Carlton in 2002): "The 
less a science has advanced, the more its terminology tends to rest upon 
uncritical assumptions of mutual understanding".   In the case of 
bioinvasions, the potential for misunderstandings and confusion - and 
the need for people to keep re-explaining what they are writing - has 
grown over the last 50 years - from Elton to the latest coral list post.

And there's still no convenient, widely-accepted or commonly-referenced 
glossary of terms that provides an integrated set of coherent, logical 
definitions for aquatic bioinvasions - based on the process of 
introduction, establishment, spread and ultimate perceived impacts 
(neutral, harmful or serendipitous).

Despite several papers and reviews pointing out this issue, invasion 
scientists and managers have yet to adopt and promote such a glossary or 
standard.  Why?  Firstly, there has been growing need for researchers, 
managers and policy makers to condense, compress and, above all, 
sensationalise their jargon, if it's to have any chance of catching 
mass-media attention, public interest, industry support and the nod of 
funding approval from a government treasury, international development 
agency, NGO, business unit or philanthropic trust.

Another reason concerns maturity.  Most of the matured applied sciences 
have well-established international chartered associations and guilds to 
help standardise, educate and promote the societal value of their 
particular field - such as marine engineering, corrosion science, 
coating science.  Perhaps it's time to establish an 'Institute of 
Biosecurity Engineers' or equivalent, where professionals and scientists 
in the bioinvasion control business can identify and adopt standards, 
educate and promote responsible research, and provide other measures to 
limit misinformation, confusion and charlatanism (quackery practise).

In the free publications list on the ISSG website, there is a GISP 
published 2005 review ("Best Practice for the Management of Introduced 
Marine Pests - A Review") which has a detailed Chapter 2 that addresses 
in detail the terminology and jargon issues of marine bioinvasions.  The 
whole 2.2MB PDF review is downloadable free at




Robert Hilliard

InterMarine Consulting Pty Ltd

Western Australia

Mob:    +61 427 855 485

*rhilliard at imco.com.au  <mailto:rhilliard at imco.com.au>*

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