Aquatic Invasive Species
The Great Lakes have been influenced by ecological changes brought about by aquatic invasive species, such as sea lampreys, alewives, zebra mussels, round gobies, ruffe and white perch. Wisconsin Sea Grant is a leader in research and outreach related to these aquatic nuisance species. Current efforts focus on educating the public about zebra mussels and other invasive species, developing ways to control their spread, reducing their adverse effects, and combining conceptual and analytical tools required to evaluate fishery restoration efforts.


News

New Guide Helps Anglers Recognize Invasive Species
A partnership between the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and Wildlife Forever produces a new resource to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Read more...


"Protect the Places You Play" Video Contest
See the winning entry to the "Protect the Places You Play" Video Contest! Read more...


Invasive Species

UW-Superior Student Helps Stop Aquatic Invaders
University of Wisconsin-Superior senior Tucker Lindberg is spending the summer at boat ramps on Lake Superior. Although he enjoys being around the water, Lindberg is there for a purpose: to talk to boaters about invasive species and to inspect their boats so that they don’t unwittingly spread unwanted plants or animals to the next lake. Read more...


Great Lakes BIOTIC Symposium 2014
Representatives of Wisconsin Sea Grant, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, natural resource professionals, industry representatives and interested stakeholders met on June 3rd and 4th for two days of presentations on invasive species in trade. Read more...


You Don't Belong Here

Aquatic species out of place create major problems in their new homes. UW Sea Grant's Phil Moy muses on the phenomenon.

Read more...


Invasive Species Fact Sheets

Asiatic Clam (Corbicula fluminea)
Asiatic clams are capable of self-fertilization, and one clam can lay up to 70,000 eggs a year. Read more...


Banded Mystery Snail (Viviparus georgianus)
This invasive snail can serve as a host for parasites that may infect fish and other wildlife, compete with native snails for food and habitat, and cause mortality of largemouth bass embryos. Read more...


Bighead Carp (Aristichthys nobilis)
The big head carp does not have a true stomach so it must constantly eat. Read more...


Bloody-Red Shrimp (Hemimysis anomala)
The bloody-red shrimp is one of our most recent ballast water invaders. Read more...


Brazilian elodea (Egeria densa)
Brazilian elodea is a popular aquarium plan that has found its way into the Great Lakes region. It crowds out native aquatic plants, degrades fish and waterfowl habitat and creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Read more...


Chinese Mystery Snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata)
The mystery snails (both Chinese and banded) don't come from eggs. They spring forth fully formed--mysterious indeed. Read more...


Eurasian Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus)
The ruffe has a lack of natural predators which creates the potential to displace other species in newly invaded areas and to cause the native fish populations to decrease. Read more...


Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Just a single two-inch fragment of Eurasian watermilfoil is all it takes to start a new plant. Read more...


European Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
Mats of frog-bit can become so thick that boat traffic can be affected by the frog-bit tangling around boat props so that the boats can no longer move in the water. Read more...


European Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)
Probably introduced as a bait-bucket release, the European rudd has been reported in at least 22 states. Read more...


Faucet Snail (Bithynia tentaculata)
These small snails are hosts to parasites that have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of diving ducks in the Great Lakes region. Read more...


Fishhook waterflea (Cercopagis pengoi)
These tiny little invasive zooplankton form clumps that can look and feel like gelatin or wet cotton. Read more...


Golden mussel (Limnoperna fortunei)
This native of SE Asia and China has caused major problems in South America, and it may be coming to North America via ballast water. Read more...


Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)
A submerged aquatic plant, hydrilla is extremely fast growing and can clog waterways and suffocate native plants. Read more...


New Zealand Mud Snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)
The New Zealand mud snail has no predators outside of New Zealand. Read more...


Phragmites (Common Reed or Phragmites australis)
Common reed has replaced much of the naturally diverse wetland plant population. Read more...


Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Purple loosestrife arrived in North America as early as the 1800s. Read more...


Quagga Mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis)
Appearing in the Great Lakes later than the zebra mussel, quagga mussels may present even more of a challenge. Read more...


Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)
This invasive crayfish can be a host for parasites and diseases, and it aggressively competes with native crayfish and other species for food and habitat. Read more...


Round Goby (Apollonia melanostomus)
Round gobies reproduce very quickly, up to six times in a summer, and populations increase very quickly. Read more...


Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)
The rusty crayfish is a very aggressive species that often displaces native crayfish. Read more...


Sea Lamprey
The sea lamprey is one of the best-known aquatic invasive species, and perhaps the most disgusting. Read more...


Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)
How to prevent an invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes has been one of the most controversial topics in the management of aquatic invasive species. Read more...


Spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes longimanus)
Waterfleas can clump together on fishing lines, nets and other gear, and they disrupt the food web. Read more...


Tubenose Goby (Proterorhinus marmoratus)
The tubenose goby is not as aggressive as the round goby, but it may still displace native species. Read more...


White Perch (Morone americana)
White perch are predacious and opportunistic feeders, often feeding on the eggs of walleye. Read more...


Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)
The annual cost on the Great Lakes to control the zebra mussels in water intake pipes is $250 million. Read more...


Tips for Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species

Keep new aquatic invasive species out of your favorite body of water by taking these important steps...
Read more...


Watercraft Decontamination

When should you consider decontamination?
Increased time and effort is a drawback to some decontamination methods, but this information will help you determine when you should consider using decontamination methods. Read more...


Decontamination Protocols

Follow these detailed steps to decontaminate your watercraft before your next launch.

Read more...


Ballast Water

Ballast Water
Prior to the early 1970s ballast water was less of a concern because our harbors were so polluted. Read more...


Aquatic Invader Attack Packs

Attack Packs: Making Invaders Real
One Madison educator shares her experience with the teaching tool. Read more...


A grab-and-go teaching tool
The Aquatic Invaders Attack Pack is a rucksack filled with materials to help students and other groups learn about Great Lakes aquatic invasive species, the problems they cause, and what can be done about them. Read more...


Chicago Canal Dispersal Barrier

The dispersal barrier is an electronic barrier designed to prevent fish from moving through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is a human-made hydrologic connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The dispersal barrier consists of an electric field that does not kill fish but keeps them from crossing. Read more...


Project Updates
The barrier is in place and functioning. Check for updates as they become available. Read more...


Technical and Policy Workgroup and Dispersal Barrier Advisory Panel Meeting Notes and Planning Participants
All meeting notes are available, starting with the first Dispersal Barrier Panel meeting in 2001. Read more...


Photos of the Dispersal Barrier Project
Read more...


Asian Carp Rapid Response Planning & Outreach Meeting Notes
Read more...


Dispersal Barrier Project History

The Canal was constructed in the late 1800s to convey sewage away from Lake Michigan and to provide a navigational corridor between the Illinois River and the Great Lakes. Historically, the water quality of the Canal was so poor that pollution formed a barrier of sorts to the cross-basin transfer of aquatic organisms.

Read more...


Videos

Beautiful Water Gardens
This is footage for a video on preventing the escape of potentially invasive species from water gardens. This little piece, however, simply celebrates the beauty of these gardens in Verona, Wis. Read more...


Loosestrife for Lunch
Purple loosestrife is an unwelcome invader of wetlands throughout the country. It has no natural predators and displaces native vegetation. And that wipes out habitat for native insects, fish and birds. Two members of the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association are controlling the spread of purple loosestrife with its European native predator. Read more...


What Will Round Gobies Do to Great Lakes Streams?
Using funding provided by University of Wisconsin Sea Grant, UW-Madison ecologist Jake Vander Zanden and UW graduate student Matt Kornis set out to discover just what kind of impact round gobies might be having on streams and rivers. Read more...


"How Many Sport Fish Can Lake Michigan Support?"
An environmental food web is an intricate, organic and delicate thing. That's why researchers have paid such close attention to the food webs in Lake Michigan, where the appearance of several aquatic invasive species has threatened to upset the natural balance. Read more...


Recent Changes in Great Lakes Fisheries
The fisheries specialist at UW Sea Grant, Dr. Phil Moy, explains recent changes in the Great Lakes, which species are at greatest risk, and the threat posed by Asian carp. Read more...


Jumping Carp
Asian carp in the Illinois River near Havana, Ill., jump in response to the noise of a motor or a charge from an electrofishing boat. Read more...


A Message From the Director
Sea Grant Director Anders Andren talks up the program, including its work on aquatic invasive species. Read more...


Part 1: All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge
The first part of a longer-version video about the increased presence of Cladophora in Lake Michigan. What do invasive mussels have to do with it? Read more...


Part 2: All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge
The second part of a longer-version video about the increased presence of Cladophora in Lake Michigan. What do invasive mussels have to do with it? Read more...


Quagga Mussels Feeding--Speeded Up 10x
Speeded up 10 times, this video emphasizes that quagga mussels are active animals--much more active than washed up shells on a beach would suggest. Read more...


Who Are the Critters in Your Neighborhood?
Finding out who eats who in Lake Michigan -- and how two tiny water fleas could restructure the food web. Read more...


Science Expeditions 2009
Experience science as discovery through a variety of "exploration stations," including an corral of AIS critters. Read more...


Musseling into Lake Michigan
Zebra mussels make up the Sea Grant display at a public science event. Read more...


Research

Investigate the Proliferation of Antimicrobial Resistance in Lake Michigan Coastal Waters

Krassimira Hristova, Marquette University, (414) 288-5120, krassimira.hristova@mu.edu

The focus of this project is to investigate a novel role of the invasive Dreissenid mussels, zebra and quagga, on the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the Great Lakes coastal ecosystem through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). We hypothesize that the primary source of ARG proliferation in Great Lakes coastal ecosystems is the gastrointestinal microbiome of humans and animals consuming antibiotics and invasive Dreissenid mussels that concentrate bacteria in their gut. The project goal is to characterize the surface water resistome in Lake Michigan and an inland Wisconsin lake by characterizing ARG diversity, HGT rates and the impact of zebra and quagga mussels on the dissemination of ARGs. This project will provide novel information of how the interactions of many ecosystem factors including treated wastewater, invasive species, and the microbiome of coastal waters interact to lead to potential reservoirs of antibiotic resistant bacteria. R/HCE-20




A New Tool for Studying Food Web Changes

Jake Vander Zanden, UW-Madison, (608) 262-9464, mjvanderzand@wisc.edu

Great Lakes ecosystems have undergone dramatic changes due to a suite of interacting anthropogenic stressors. For example, Dreissenid mussels have shunted productivity to the nearshore benthos and caused severe oligotrophication in the offshore zone. What are the underlying  food web changes that both drive and respond to these remarkable ecological shifts? Amino acid-specific nitrogen isotope analysis (AA-NIA) is a novel approach for measuring food web change in freshwater systems. We will develop the basis for long-term retrospective food web analysis from preserved museum specimens and calcified tissues (fish scales and otoliths). Using this approach, we will test hypotheses about historical trophic niche partitioning among deepwater coregonids in the upper Great Lakes. In addition, we will test hypotheses about food web responses to Dreissenid-driven changes in nearshore and offshore habitats. This innovative approach has exciting potential to serve as an integrative ecological indicator of Great Lakes ecosystem health. (R/HCE-24)




Role of Invasive Quagga Mussels in Regulating Organic Carbon Dynamics in Lake Michigan

Laodong Guo, UW-Milwaukee, (414) 382-1742, guol@uwm.edu

The Great Lakes have experienced significant ecological changes due to increasing anthropogenic influences and the introduction of invasive species, resulting in the decline of fish biomass and changes in ecosystem function, food web structure and carbon/nutrient dynamics. However, the pathways/mechanisms and changes in nutrient/carbon dynamics remain elusive. Quantitative linkages between quagga mussels and changes in carbon/nutrient dynamics in Lake Michigan remain poorly known. Understanding the uptake pathways and interactions of quagga mussels with dissolved, colloidal and particulate organic matter in the water column is likely at the heart of this issue. Our working hypothesis is that ultra-fine colloidal or nanoparticulate organic matter is either retained or taken up by quagga mussels, consequently competing for food sources with zooplankton and altering carbon/energy flow in the water column. Our results from controlled laboratory experiments should provide new insights into biogeochemical consequences of invasive species in Lake Michigan. (R/HCE-16)




Changing Benthic Metabolism in the Great Lakes

J. Val Klump, UW-Milwaukee, (414) 382-1700, vklump@uwm.edu

The Great Lakes have experienced arguably the largest short-term ecological shift in their history within the last decade and face a long-term climate shift in the decades to come. The invasion of Dreissenid mussels, the disappearance of Diporeia, and the predicted increasing temperatures and lengthening stratification have altered and will alter the role of benthic metabolism. The nearshore habitat is a complex of newly colonized cobble, gravel, hard clay and silty sands. Deepwater bottoms have been overrun with mussels. Production and respiration of oxygen are notoriously difficult to measure in such environments since many of the common methods—oxygen and pore water gradients, sediment or chamber incubations—all have limitations. The researchers propose to employ new, nondisruptive eddy correlation techniques to study oxygen exchange at the benthic boundary in a range of Great Lakes environments that have undergone or will undergo significant change. (R/HCE-12)




Outreach

Asian Carp Research
This will be a literature review of current research on the control of the spread of Asian carp throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin to also include input from the more than 25 partner organizations involved in control measures. These efforts will create a document on the current status of research that will be directed toward interested members of the public, resource managers and policymakers. Finally, Sea Grant will identify knowledge and information gaps in the current understanding of Asian carp in North America. The identified gaps can then be used to guide future research and management activities for better control of the species and more efficient use of funds. Funding source: Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee through Ohio Sea Grant.


AIS Prevention at Fishing Tournaments
Fishing tournaments have the potential to spread aquatic invasive species (AIS) through the movement of participants’ boats among water bodies and the equipment used by tournament organizers. Judge and release boats and weigh-in equipment may be transported hundreds of miles between events with little time to dry. By educating tournament organizers, and in turn tournament participants, about AIS prevention, Sea Grant and its national and regional partners can slow the spread of AIS between waters, maintain the fishing tournament industry and engage tournament anglers in youth education. Funding source: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


Characterizing Usage of Great Lakes Boating Access Through Launch Passes
As aquatic invasive species (AIS) awareness increases, more targeted efforts will be required to reach high-risk boaters efficiently through this project that will involve partners. Understanding the usage of water access points can help target outreach and prevention activities. Knowing where boaters are from and where they access the water throughout the boating season can help direct prevention activities. Launch passes from coastal communities will be used to obtain data such as the number of nonlocal users and users per week. This information can then be compared across communities to determine where prevention resources would be best used throughout the boating season.


Wakeboard Boat Ballast Study
Some recreational boats have onboard ballast systems that are used to increase the enjoyment of water sports such as wake boarding and water skiing. These boats can carry more than 100 gallons of ballast and have the potential to transport invasive species. Initial observations from working with a wakeboard boat dealer determined that ballast water remains in the tanks even after the system has been “fully drained.” Transporting water is in violation of Wisconsin law. Although this rule is not currently being enforced on recreational boats with ballast systems, helping boaters comply will reduce the risk of transporting aquatic invasive species (AIS). The goals of this project, which involves two partners, are to assess the potential of recreational boat ballast to transport AIS, assess the risk of the boating behaviors of this boating group and to ultimately develop a process to reduce the risk of recreational boat ballast transporting AIS.


Great Lakes Charter Captains Aquatic Invasive Species Network
Charter captains are opinion leaders in the field of fishing and may speak with clients daily about aquatic invasive species (AIS) issues. However, captains may not know all the facts about AIS and may not have time to seek them out. This project, carried out with two partners, will determine the information needs of charter captains and provide that information in the form of a toolkit. The toolkit will contain a standard mechanism for reporting an unknown or possible new AIS. This standard reporting process will increase the likelihood of reporting new sightings and is designed to increase communication between charter captains and AIS professionals.


Watercraft Decontamination for Wisconsin Communities and Organizations
Interest in watercraft decontamination has grown as localities and states adopt strategies for aquatic invasive species prevention. The goal of this project and Sea Grant’s two partners is to develop standard decontamination recommendations for Wisconsin, provide guidance to stakeholders interested in decontamination and provide decontamination educational materials.


Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Sea Grant Partnership for AIS Prevention
This project continues aquatic invasive species watercraft inspections using nine people stationed at Great Lakes boating access sites. It’s a partnership of Sea Grant, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension. Funding source: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


Video on AIS
Check out video on Asian Carp and on zebra mussels. Read more...


Wisconsin's Water Library
Wisconsin's Water Library has reading lists on many different topics.  Take a look at the aquatic invasive species reading list. Read more...

Login