California’s Reaction to Caulerpa taxifolia: A Model for Invasive Species Rapid Response*

TitleCalifornia’s Reaction to Caulerpa taxifolia: A Model for Invasive Species Rapid Response*
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsAnderson, L. W. J.
Refereed DesignationRefereed
JournalBiological Invasions
Pagination1003 - 1016
Date Published11/2005

The invasive marine alga Caulerpa taxifolia was discovered June 12, 2000, in California at Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Due to a 15-year history of spread in the Mediterranean Sea, C. taxifolia had already been placed on the US Federal Noxious Weed list in 1999. Awareness of this threat greatly facilitated consensus building and setting clear eradication goals among a large number of state, federal and local agencies as well as private groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that became the ‘Southern California Caulerpa Action Team’ (SCCAT). Field containment and treatments began 17 days after the discovery due to: (1) timely identification and notification of the infestation; (2) the proactive staff of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board who deemed this invasion tantamount to an ‘oil spill’, thus freeing up emergency funding; (3) the mobilization of diver crews already working at the site. Three well-integrated components of this rapid response have resulted in an effective eradication program: (a) expertise and knowledge on the biology of C. taxifolia; (b) knowledge on the uses, ‘ownership’ and characteristics of the infested site; (c) knowledge and experience in the implementation of aquatic plant eradication. Together, with the requisite resources (approximately $US1.2 million per year), this approach has resulted in containment, treatment and excellent progress toward eradication of C. taxifolia. Successful rapid response to other aquatic invasive species will require similar readiness to act, and immediate access to adequate funding.

Short TitleBiol Invasions