To best target surveillance efforts with limited resources, we must identify and prioritize sites with the highest risk of new introductions, including range expansion from species established elsewhere in the Great Lakes Basin.
With a surface water area of 95,000 square miles (245,759 square km) and shoreline length of 10,210 miles (17,017 km) the Great Lakes represent a daunting challenge for surveillance site selection. There are three major factors in prioritizing sites for surveillance:
- The likelihood that a new species will be introduced at a particular location based on the presence of different pathways of introduction. For example, is the species carried on recreational boats and is this a busy summer boating destination?
- The suitability of any site for a particular species or life stage to mature, grow, or breed. For example, are the right spawning habitats or suitable food present?
- Measures of site vulnerability. For example, does the site have important rare or threatened species that are at risk from AIS and therefore they warrant extra protection?
Whether surveillance efforts are focused on a specific species, a group of species, or all potential species in one or more invasion pathway(s) will determine the relative importance placed on each of these factors in identifying site surveillance priorities.
A small number of species are the subject of species-specific surveillance efforts and these have existing monitoring plans that undergo annual review and refinement (e.g. Silver Carp, Bighead Carp (www.asiancarp.us).