Dr. Felix Martinez, Program Manager for NOAA's Regional Ecosystem Prediction Program's Aquatic Invasive Species project.
Photo credit: NOAA

Dr. Felix Martinez, Program Manager for NOAA's Regional Ecosystem Prediction Program's Aquatic Invasive Species project.
Photo credit: NOAA

Partner’s Update – December 2013

Although NOAA does not have an established agency-wide aquatic invasive species (AIS) program per se, many of our offices do actively engage in AIS-related activities. These activities range from physical removal of alien species populations for habitat restoration to research on the dynamics and impacts of invasions. It is in the latter that NOAA has been contributing in the fight to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. Recognizing the critical impacts that AIS play in the Great Lakes region, NOAA’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) announced under its Regional Ecosystem Prediction Program (REPP) a request for proposals for projects to conduct research to improve our understanding of AIS on a basin-wide scale.

As a result of the CSCOR competition, the project Forecasting spread and bioeconomic impacts of aquatic invasive species from multiple pathways to improve management and policy in the Great Lakes was selected for funding. The project, led by the University of Notre Dame and The Nature Conservancy, is a multi-disciplinary effort bringing together academic, federal, and NGO scientists from Georgia to Wyoming and Washington, D.C. In addition, the project team is working closely with a management board comprised of state, federal, NGO, and international resource managers and policy makers to facilitate the exchange of information between the researchers and their stakeholders. The board has been instrumental in ensuring that the project’s activities are indeed responsive to resource management information needs and that results are communicated to the stakeholders on a timely manner.

With a combination of a thorough review of existing information and the development and use of models, the team is working on six main goals: 1) forecasting the probability of establishment of a select number of species considered to be likely new invaders into the Great Lakes via the three major pathways (shipping, organisms in trade, and canals); 2) forecasting the potential habitat for these species if they were to invade; 3) forecasting the potential for natural and assisted (shipping and recreational boating) dispersal into suitable habitats once they entered the system; 4) forecasting the potential ecological impact of their invasion on the Lakes’ food webs; 5) forecasting the economic impact to the region due disruption to the food webs and ecosystem goods and services; and 6) provide the results to managers to help develop and evaluate effective prevention and management strategies relative to the select species.

As can be expected, Asian carps are among the select group of species considered and comprise about 60 percent of the project’s activities. Work on the first three goals is mostly completed and final results from the food web and bioeconomic models are coming in the next several months. The project is now entering its final year of funding in 2014, but activities are expected to continue into 2015. Project funding was the result of a collaborative $5M effort between NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency using CSCOR base and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding.

For additional information on the NOAA REPP AIS project, contact the Program Manager at Felix.Martinez@noaa.gov.

 

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