Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Spatial optimal control of stocastically spreading invasive species

This study concerns the management of established invasive species. In order to manage invasive species, it is important to consider how the species grows and spreads in space. Invasive species may arrive in new areas due to shipping, i.e. hull-fouling or in ballast water. Accounting for spatial aspects in invasive species growth and spread allows for the spatially targeted and appropriately timed application of management strategies, which may include removal/harvesting/destruction of the invasion in a given area or efforts to prevent spread to other areas. This study creates a novel stochastic dynamic programme model to give insight into the optimal management of established invasive species.


The new insights from our model result from the ability of the model to allow for varying invasive populations within areas. We find that this allows the identification of new management interventions. These new management interventions are characterised by combinations of management interventions, which are optimally timed.

The optimal management of established invasive species is an important response to the vector of change of invasive species establishment. Improved management, as facilitated by this model will lead to reduced damages from invasions and minimised costs of management. We demonstrate this in a simple model of two connected areas. We model the growth of species within an area as deterministic and the spread between areas as a stochastic process. The likelihood of spread increases as the population size increases. This cases is particularly relevant for marine coastal areas. The model can be applied to cases such as, for example, the Pacific Oyster in the Wadden Sea or the invasive sea squirt in the UK.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Alien Invasive Species Directive
  • International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship's Ballast Water and Sediments

Lead Author:

Adam N. Walker
Wageningen University (WU)
Date of research: October 2014

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Population dynamics of sprat in the Baltic Sea 

Predicting growth of fish early life stages

Response of plaice and sole to climate change 

Risk of stock collapse and the Great Fish Pact

Saprobity in coastal lagoons

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The content of this website may be subject to copyright, if you wish to use any of the information or figures please contact the attributed author(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.