Monitoring for priority species and sites

Photo: Whitewood Lake in Michigan ©Doug Lemke

GOAL: Detect and respond to new introductions of aquatic invasive species / METRIC: Monitoring for priority species and sites

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Aquatic Invasive Species Interstate Surveillance Framework for the U.S. Waters of the Great Lakes

What we track

Blue Accounting is reporting on locations in the Great Lakes where surveillance for aquatic invasive species is a priority.

Surveillance effort

An aquatic invasive species detection program is built on two factors: what species a management agency is searching for and what locations are being searched for those species. These locations, or sites, are dependent on a number of criteria and what species a management agency is looking for. By listing and prioritizing these sites and species, federal, state, and provincial agencies can work together to ensure the highest priorities sites are being surveyed for the highest priority species.

Why it matters

The Great Lakes present unique challenges to early detection efforts, with a surface water area of 95,000 square miles (245,759 square km) and shoreline length of 10,210 miles (17,017 km). To focus early detection efforts across such a large area, sites with the highest risk of new introductions, including movement of species established elsewhere in the Great Lakes Basin, prioritized sites can help management agencies make decisions about surveillance locations.

Identifying species that pose a threat to the Great Lakes is an important strategy within an early detection program because it informs what to look for, and where and how to look for them. This increases the likelihood that high-risk species are detected soon after introduction, which is critical to a successful response effort.

AIS Work Group

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A 9km x 9km grid, based on the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework, has been used to map potential surveillance sites within the Great Lakes. The color of each 9km square grows darker as invasion risk increases. The method is based on the likelihood that a watch list species could be introduced by any of the key pathways of spread (e.g., shipping, recreational boating, and organisms in trade). The method categorizes high-risk, priority sites for different groups of species: fish, invertebrates, and plants. A comparable site-prioritization system is under construction for Canada. To switch between maps for fish, and invertebrates, and plants, click on the Layer List icon in the upper right hand corner of the map.


Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework; Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project; Mid-Continent Ecology Division Laboratory; University of Toledo; Interstate Early Detection and Rapid Response project team

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