Dr. Josephine Iacarella

Image Josephine Iacarella
Research Scientist

I am a marine ecologist in the Marine Spatial Ecology and Analysis Section of DFO. I conduct research on the spread of invasive species and stressors of human activities on marine protected areas in Canada, with a focus on the coast of British Columbia.

Current research and/or projects

I am conducting research on the likelihood of invasions into marine protected areas in British Columbia using network analysis of vessel movements as a dominant vector of spread. I am also developing a project assessing fishing activities and compliance within and surrounding marine protected areas in Canada's three oceans.

Research and/or project statements

I contribute to science that helps managers target efforts to mitigate the spread of invasive species and effectively monitor and conserve marine protected areas.

Professional activities / interests

  • Determined likelihood of invasion of 8 nonindigenous species into marine protected in British Columbia based on vessel movements and environmental suitability. Extensive areas within marine protected areas are expected to be environmentally suitable under future conditions (2041 - 2070).
  • Assessed vessel movements across the Northeast Pacific coast and determined how they link invaded areas to marine protected areas. Recreational vessels strongly connected these areas, particularly during warm summer months when nonindigenous species are abundant.
  • Conducted a global questionnaire in which experts identified the prevalence and impacts of invasive species in marine protected areas. Most marine protected do not have preventative measures in place for spread of invasive species.
  • Evaluated floating marine infrastructure (e.g. docks, oil rigs) as a vector of invasive species spread and showed that translocation of docks relocates entire biofouling communities.

Education and awards


  • PhD: Tomlinson Doctoral Fellow, Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. 2011-2015

  • MSc: Marine Science Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. 2009-2011.

  • BSc: Biology with Distinction, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. 2004-2008


  • Fumi Takano Award (CHF$2,000) Awarded by Graduate Women International in recognition of leadership in the field of science. 2014.
  • Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award (USD$500) Awarded by the University of South Carolina – Columbia for contributions to the field and innovative use of technology. 2011.
  • Phi Betta Kappa – oldest and most prestigious academic honour society in the United States – invited member based on academic excellence and breadth during undergraduate degree.

International experience and/or work

  • Participant in an international working group on invasion science.
  • Presenter at many international conferences, including in Spain, Sultanate of Oman, South Africa.
  • Conducted research in Northern Ireland and Ireland for two summers in collaboration with Queen's Univeristy - Belfast (2012-2013).
  • Volunteer research diver with Global Vision International in the Seychelles to determine coral reef recovery following an El Nino event (2009).

Key publications

1. Iacarella, JC, Saheed D, Dunham A, and Ban NC. 2019. Non-native species are a global issue for marine protected areas. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 17: 495-501.

2. Chalifour, L, Scott DC, MacDuffee M, Iacarella JC, Martin TG, and Baum JK. Habitat use by juvenile salmon, other migratory fish, and resident fish species underscores the importance of estuarine habitat mosaics. Marine Ecology Progress Series 625: 145-162.

3. Iacarella, JC, Davidson IC, and Dunham A. 2019. Biotic exchange from movement of ‘static’ maritime structures. Biological Invasions 21: 1131-1141.

4. Iacarella, JC, Adamczyk E, Bowen D, Chalifour L, Eger A, Heath W, et al. 2018. Anthropogenic disturbance homogenizes seagrass fish communities. Global Change Biology 24: 1904-1918.   

5. Iacarella, JC, Barrow J, Giani A, Beisner BE, and Gregory-Eaves I. 2018. Shifts in algal dominance in freshwater experimental ponds across differing levels of macrophytes and nutrients. Ecosphere 9: e02086.

6. Iacarella, JC, Hudgins EJ, Dick JTA, and Ricciardi A. 2018. Predatory behaviour of an invasive amphipod in response to varying conspecific densities under higher-order predation risk. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 75: 131-140.

7. Ricciardi, A, Blackburn T, Carlton JT, Dick JTA, Hulme PE, Iacarella JC, et al. 2017. Invasion science: looking forward rather than revisiting old ground. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 32: 809-810.

8. Ricciardi, A, Blackburn T, Carlton JT, Dick JTA, Hulme PE, Iacarella JC, et al. 2017. Invasion science: a horizon scan of emerging challenges and opportunities. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 32: 464-474.

9. Church, K, Iacarella JC, and Ricciardi A. 2017. Aggressive interactions between two invasive species: the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) and the spinycheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus). Biological Invasions 19: 425-441.

10. McDevitt-Irwin, JM, Iacarella JC, and Baum JK. 2016. Reassessing the nursery role of seagrass habitats from temperate to tropical regions: a meta-analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 557: 133-143.

11. Iacarella, JC, and Ricciardi A. 2015 Dissolved ions mediate body mass gain and predatory response of an invasive fish. Biological Invasions 17: 3237-3246.

12. Iacarella, JC, Mankiewicz PS, and Ricciardi A. 2015. Negative impacts of invasive plants change with time since invasion. Ecosphere 6: art.123.

13. Iacarella, JC, Dick JTA, and Ricciardi A. 2015. A spatio-temporal contrast of the predatory impact of an invasive freshwater crustacean. Diversity and Distributions 21: 803-812.

14. Iacarella, JC, Dick JTA, Alexander ME, and Ricciardi A. 2015. Ecological impacts of invasive alien species along temperature gradients: testing the role of environmental matching. Ecological Applications 25: 706-716.

15. Iacarella, JC, and Helmuth B. 2012. Body temperature and desiccation constrain the activity of Littoraria irrorata within the Spartina alterniflora canopy. Journal of Thermal Biology 37: 15-22.

16. Iacarella, JC, and Helmuth B. 2011. Experiencing the salt marsh environment through the foot of Littoraria irrorata: behavioral responses to thermal and desiccation stresses. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 409: 143-153.