Aquatic Environment



Marine Pests

SARDI's Marine Pests subprogram provides high quality research on the distribution, environmental impact and eradication of invasive marine organisms. Click here to download the Marine Pests subprogram capability statement (.pdf).

The invasive marine alga, Caulerpa taxifolia, in the Port River, South Australia.Myxicola infundibulum, a fanworm marine pest.Caulerpa racemosa, a native alga with invasive characteristics.Sabella spallanzanii, an introduced fanworm on Noarlunga Reef.


The Marine Pests subprogram was formed within the Marine Environment and Ecology program in 2002 to respond to monitoring and research needs following the detection of Caulerpa taxifolia. Research on eradication and management strategies led to the most successful large-scale removal of C. taxifolia worldwide. Unfortunately, the infestation spread from West Lakes to the Port River and C. taxifolia is now regarded as ineradicable in South Australia.

A recently completed risk assessment defined the potential for spread of the alga and surveillance and management priorities. The subprogram has successfully tendered for two federal projects: the development of PCR detection systems for three priority marine pests in collaboration with SARDI Plant and Soil Health and a risk assessment of the marine pest risks associated with the Australian aquaculture industries. These projects have arisen as a consequence of the National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions, which is likely to bring additional research opportunities.

The Marine Innovation Southern Australia (MISA) initiative has a firm commitment to expansion of biosecurity R&D in the areas of marine pests, fish diseases and parasites, and toxic micro-algae, with recent appointments covering microalgae, molecular diagnostics, and spatial modelling. A key component of the initiative is development of physical containment facilities for aquatic biosecurity research in Adelaide.

The Marine Pests subprogram currently has projects in the fields of:

  • Detection systems
  • Risk Assessment
  • Pest distribution monitoring

Other areas that have been considered by the subprogram:

  • Eradication research and monitoring
  • Biological and chemical control of marine pests
  • Environmental and social impact assessment of marine pests

Other areas of research are focused on a range of pests with funding from the state government via PIRSA Marine Biosecurity.

Selected Publications

Westphalen, G., Collings, G., Rowling, K., Theil, T. and Cheshire, A. (2004). Port River and Barker Inlet Caulerpa taxifolia (Vahl) C. Agardh distribution and eradication. SARDI Aquatic Sciences Publication Number RD02/0161-10. 30 pp.

Rowling, K, Westphalen, G & Tanner, JE (2005). Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea surveys of Outer Harbor. Prepared for the KBR and Flinders Ports. SARDI Aquatic Sciences Publication No. RD04/0090. SARDI Aquatic Sciences, Adelaide. 9 pp.

Rowling, K. and Westphalen, G. (2005). Monitoring salt treatment of Caulerpa taxifolia (Vahl) C. Agardh in the upper Port River. Prepared for PIRSA Biosecurity. SARDI Aquatic Sciences Publication No. RD 02/0161-11, SARDI Aquatic Sciences, Adelaide. 11 pp.

Theil, M., Westphalen, G., Collings, G., & Cheshire, A., (2007) Caulerpa taxifolia responses to hyposalinity stress. Aquatic Botany. 87: 221-228.

Deveney, M.R., Rowling, K, Wiltshire, K., Collings, G., Manning, C., Fernandes, M. & Tanner, J.E. (2008) Caulerpa taxifolia environmental risk assessment. Prepared for PIRSA Biosecurity. SARDI Aquatic Sciences.


Dr Marty Deveney
Subprogram Leader Marine Pests
PO Box 120, Henley Beach, SA 5022
Tel: 08 8207 5434 Fax: 08 8207 5406