Ecosystems: Invasive Species Disrupt Coastal Ecosystems and economies

Non-native species - including plants, animals, and pathogens - are considered to be one of the greatest threats to coastal ecosystems. They have adversely impacted local economies, important fisheries, sensitive coastal ecosystems, and human health. Invasive species can aggressively spread in coastal ecosystems causing considerable impacts.


The number of new species introduced in San Francisco Bay every 14 weeks from 1962 to 1995.

Source: Cohen and Carlton, 1998

$1 million

Approximate cost per year to eradicate one invasive alga (Caulerpa taxifolia) in southern California.

Source: Williams and Grosholtz, 2008


Estimated number of non-native aquatic species established in the Great Lakes.

Source: NOAA GLERL, 2011

$5 billion

Estimated economic impact to the Great Lakes region (U.S. and Canada) from zebra mussels, 2000-2010.

Source: USGS GLSC, 2011b

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Data Disclaimer ; Download Zebra Mussel Interactive Map and Data (700kb)

Source: U.S. Geological Survey Non-indigenous Aquatic Species, 2012, Basemap provided by ESRI

About this Topic

This topic uses data from the U.S. Geological Survey to depict the dramatic spread of the invasive zebra and quagga mussel from just a few locations mostly around the Great Lakes in 1986 throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond into the Mississippi River valley, Hudson River and Chesapeake Bay in 2012. Two Case Studies are also presented: How Does a Species Become Invasive? and Slowing the Spread. Also presented is a Coastal Voices video on Ballast Water – A Pathway for Aquatic Invasive Species.

Closer Look

Relevant Links

U.S. Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center - Marine Invasions Research Laboratory