Points of Invasion

Very few places in the world have not been touched by invasive species. Biological invasions are a major force of change, affecting many dimensions of life on Earth. Invasions result when species colonize new geographic regions, which are disjunct (isolated) from existing populations. Although species have been moved from place to place for centuries, humans have dramatically altered invasion dynamics, especially with the global expansion of trade in modern times. The speed and scale on which this movement is occurring have increased exponentially.

Join the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center for a closer look at what invasives are, where they are invading, and how they get there.


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An overview of the west coast branch of our lab, based in Tiburon.

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The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) leads research on coastal ecosystems—where the land meets the sea—to inform real-world decisions for wise policies, best business practices, and a sustainable planet. In the Marine Invasions Lab on the west coast, our core mission is to track the pulse of biotic change in the estuaries and coastlines along the Pacific Coast of North America. We identify non-native species in San Francisco Bay and surrounding coastlines, from Alaska to Panama, learn how their life cycles work in these new environs, and determine what effects they might be having on resident communities. We seek, in short, to make the consequences of moving species to strange new oceans both known and predictable, including how these species will interact with changing climate regimes.