Anthony Koop, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
- APHIS uses the PPQ weed risk assessment (WRA) process as a way to evaluate a plant species’ probability of entry, establishment and spread and potential consequences in the U.S. to help inform regulatory decision making and provide a standard baseline assessment of a species’ invasive potential.
- The WRA format is mostly yes/no questions, with a few multiple choice, that incorporate uncertainty levels for questions in the following risk elements: establishment/spread potential, impact potential, geographic potential and entry potential.
- Risk potential is determined by calculating scores for establishment/spread and impact of a plant species, which is then given a “high risk,” “low risk,” or “evaluate further” designation.
- Geographic potential is also evaluated separately by considering plant hardiness zones, annual precipitation and climate classes to predict if a species could survive in a new location based on climate suitability.
- Since the model was developed, 78 species identified as a potential concern to the U.S. have been assessed with the WRA model. The final WRA products include 3-4-page summaries of the species’ risk factors, species background information, relevant data and figures, model conclusion, references and a copy of all the answers, uncertainties and evidences used in the analysis.
- The website can be accessed here.
Mike Hoff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- A goal of ecological risk screening is to help protect U.S. biosecurity from the risk of live invasive animals being imported, without unnecessarily regulating importation and trade of beneficial and low–risk nonnative species.
- Risk analysis is a combination of risk assessment, which characterizes the risk, risk screening, which is a rapid (within hours) risk assessment, risk management, which weighs and implements policy alternatives, and risk communication, which communicates the risk assessment results and risk management actions.
- Risk analysis supports the Lacey Act and the National Invasive Species Management plan objective to prevent the establishment of intentionally introduced invasive species through fair and practical screening processes and integration of these processes into regulatory and non-regulatory programming.
- FWS developed a risk assessment approach that includes a detailed 6-page procedure used to conduct the screening, data and outputs packaged in a standardized format, and a screening report template with native range and status in the United States, biology and ecology, impacts of introductions, global distribution, climate matching with the U.S., risk assessment, high-risk species and references.
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding was used to conduct rapid screening on 2,000 species (in DRAFT form) in the last three years; screening reports are available online at the FWS website.
Lindsay Chadderton, The Nature Conservancy
- Currently, prohibited species lists are mostly reactive, and there is a lack of consistency in the species that are regulated across Great Lakes states and provinces.
- Existing risk assessment methods and information in the Great Lakes Basin include expert panels, literature reviews, questionnaires and statistical tools; there is limited similarity across jurisdictions.
- Common criteria used to assess risk include: probability of introduction, environmental suitability (including habitat suitability and climate match), and evidence of impacts such as history of invasiveness elsewhere, competition with native species, disease, economic impacts or human health impacts.
- However, collectively, the different approaches represent a weight of evidence that can be used by individual jurisdictions to determine risk.
- Strength of evidence for risk assessment is strongest when the risk is identified by multiple peer reviewed risk assessments and expert panels and this strength of evidence can be scored based on points designated for each approach. (For example, detailed literature reviews are scored 1 point per process.)
- The risk assessments provide an opportunity for adoption of a more comprehensive and consistent prohibited species list across Great Lakes jurisdictions.
Rueben Keller, Loyola University Chicago
- All Great Lakes states are subject to risks from invasive freshwater species in trade, and coordination is essential to meeting goals of preventing new invaders from arriving.
- Our risk assessment process involves three objectives.
- The first two are research oriented: 1) risk assessment tools for fishes, plants, mollusks, amphibians, reptiles and crustaceans are being developed for the Great Lakes Basin and 2) these tools are being utilized to assess invasion risk of species currently in trade in the Great Lakes.
- The third objective is to produce and make freely available text and online versions of the risk assessment tools, conduct workshops in their use and application, and develop species lists annotated for risk to distribute to stakeholders across the basin.
- The risk assessments are being developed for each taxa by gathering species trait data and looking for patterns that can explain success (or failure), including habitat preference, life history, invasion risk, phylogeny, trophic ecology and native range.
- The outcome of the risk assessment process is that Great Lakes governments will have high-performance risk assessment tools that are scientifically rigorous and contain comprehensive information to support coordinated action to manage high-risk aquatic species in trade.
Erika Jensen, The Great Lakes Commission
- Internet commerce facilitates the trade of live organisms and presents a complex and poorly understood issue with regards to live organisms that can be purchased directly off the Internet, possibly leading to their intentional or unintentional release.
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding was awarded in 2012 to support this project with the following objectives: to develop software to assess the availability of invasive species via the Internet; to provide information and management tools; and to present information on the internet marketplace, including risks and options for management.
- The project consists of a pathway assessment, which involves monitoring the Web for species of concern and the suppliers that carry them, sharing the results with managers and making management recommendations, and conducting outreach by surveying potential users and working with suppliers on best management practices and potential risks of AIS from the Internet trade.
- Next steps include holding a workshop to share findings and discuss management options, rolling out the IS2Ds tool and a developing a final report.
Christopher Jerde, University of Notre Dame
- Bait is a potential vector of AIS introduction in the Great Lakes for species such as goldfish, round and tubenose gobies, Eurasian rudd, and bighead and silver carp.
- eDNA, which consists of filtering a water sample and screening for the presence of DNA, provides a quick, cheap and effective way to sample for the presence of target species’ DNA in the water.
- A Chicago pilot study used eDNA to test for AIS in 136 water samples collected from 52 bait shops. No bighead or silver carp were observed visually or with eDNA; however, 14 shops had goldfish DNA and 8 had visual detections of goldfish.
- A Great Lakes bait shop study between 2012 and 2013 visited 525 bait shops all throughout the Great Lakes region and performed eDNA surveillance on water samples; there was an overall 4.7% contamination rate of samples, with positive hits on goldfish, round goby and silver carp.
- AIS signage was also distributed and documented during bait shop visits; revisits of 20% of the shops after one year showed that 54% of signs remained posted.