Aquatic invasive species are said to be the second greatest threat to native biodiversity, next to habitat loss.
The 18th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, held recently in Niagara Falls, Ontario, examined this threat in detail. IJC scientists chaired two sessions on Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Risk Assessment, and participated on the conference’s technical program committee.
The IJC sessions involved presentations from 10 experts from across the globe, discussing the state of the science of predicting the movement and impacts of invasive species.
An overarching concern: reducing the amount of uncertainty regarding the impact and movement of invasive species. There are a wide range of approaches to deal with this, from models to monitoring and tracking efforts.
IJC scientists also participated in conference sessions on managing pathways of AIS transport, identifying new invaders, and eradication efforts.
The IJC will apply information from the conference to help guide its Great Lakes activities, including the Great Lakes Ballast Water Collaborative.
The Collaborative was initiated in 2009 between the IJC and the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., to bring together industry and state and federal regulators on the issue of ballast water and invasive species in the region. To date, there have been more than 180 non-native species recorded in the Great Lakes (including the sea lamprey and zebra mussel), and Asian carp are an ongoing threat. However, the IJC’s recently released 16th Biennial Report noted that no new invaders have been introduced via ballast water since 2006.
Conference discussions surrounding AIS early detection and rapid response fit with the IJC’s project to produce a pilot, binational AIS response plan for the Great Lakes. The IJC received funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to develop this binational pilot plan and a number of related reports.
A flying silver carp, one of the invasive Asian carp species. Credit: Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States, updated in 2012, also includes new provisions to address aquatic invasive species.
Ultimately, these efforts will help resource managers understand the risks posed by a variety of species, successful strategies for dealing with the challenges, and how to best target resources for effective prevention and response.
This year’s event was hosted by the Invasive Species Centre of Ontario.
The IJC was a sponsor of the conference, along with federal, provincial, non-governmental and industry partners. The event included more than 300 participants representing 26 different countries. Many experts at the conference have served on IJC advisory work groups.