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The Cost of the Great Lake Invaders

US - The U.S. Great Lakes have suffered ecological damage and incurred substantial economic costs from a number of aquatic nonindigenous species (NIS) that have successfully invaded the region.

Ballast water from commercial shipping is the primary means by which NIS have entered the Great Lakes. Preventing the transport of NIS to the region is the best way to avoid their potential adverse impacts, but if this is not possible, the next best alternative is to monitor for their arrival and control their spread.

To predict future invasions of NIS in the Great Lakes, the two most important determinants of successful invasions were evaluated: whether there is suitable habitat in the Great Lakes for nonnative species and whether there are a sufficient number of these organisms and their larvae arriving in the Great Lakes.

First, a species distribution model was used to identify the areas of the Great Lakes which could provide suitable habitat for NIS of concern. Second, commercial shipping and ballast water discharge data were used to evaluate if there are a sufficient number of these organisms entering the Great Lakes to become established.

The primary goal of the report was to help scientists and managers to better focus aquatic NIS monitoring activities and resources by identifying new invasive species, their potential to spread, and the U.S. Great Lakes ports most susceptible to invasion.

Another goal was to demonstrate the use of a habitat suitability model and ballast water discharge data to predict invasion potential. Clients for this report include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office, Great Lakes port officials, the U.S. Coast Guard, environmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. and Canada concerned about invasive species, and invasion biologists.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

the Fish Site Editor

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