How has the invention of the shipping container influenced marine bioinvasion?

Noa Shenkar*, David Rosen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The advent of container vessel networks has revolutionized global freight transport. While numerous studies in various disciplines such as economics, law, geography, engineering, and more, have discussed the impact of the “Container Revolution”, we would like to share our insights here regarding the impact of container shipping networks on current and potential future trends in marine bioinvasion. We discuss the shift in centers and routes of high shipping intensity, and the importance of “Hub” versus “Feeder” ports, in relation to potential invasion routes. The increasing use of Ultra-Large Container Vessels (ULCV) worldwide is leading to further change in introduction dynamics: fewer vessels are now required for the transshipment of goods, as evident from our analysis of vessel movement via the Suez Canal. An investigation of adapted maintenance regulations is thus required in order to prevent the spread of alien species as fouling communities on particular niche areas of ULCVs. ULCVs further advance the hub-and-spoke network. Hub ports are characterized by the close physical proximity of large vessels (intercontinental mainliners) to many smaller vessels (feeders), calling in at local ports, as well as to other large vessels. This vessel interface occurs on a regular repetitive weekly cycle within a relatively small maritime environment. Thus a systematic network of potential vectors of bio-invasion is being established on both regional and continental levels. The increasing development of large container ports globally, and of larger vessels, demands a thorough investigation of their effect on bioinvasion potential. An integrated study of both the commercial and the biological networks is thus essential in order to fully comprehend their interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalManagement of Biological Invasions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation993/15


    • Containerization
    • Fouling control
    • Hub ports
    • Shipping network
    • Suez canal
    • Ultra-large container vessels


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