GLRI Focus Area 2: Invasives

The Great Lakes ecosystem has been severely damaged by more than 180 invasive and non-native species.

Species such as the zebra musselquagga musselround gobysea lamprey, and alewife reproduce and spread, ultimately degrading habitat, out-competing native species, and short-circuiting food webs. Non-native plants such as purple loosestrife and Eurasian watermilfoil have also harmed the Great Lakes ecosystem. Unfortunately, the damage caused by invasive species often goes beyond the ecological impacts. They can threaten human health and hurt the Great Lakes economy by damaging critical industries such as fisheries, agriculture, and tourism. It is extremely difficult to control the spread of an invasive species once it is established, which makes prevention the most cost-effective approach to dealing with organisms that have not yet entered or become established in the Great Lakes. Toward this end, the GLRI supports efforts to develop a “comprehensive program for detection and tracking newly identified invasive species in the Great Lakes and providing up-to-date critical information needed by decisionmakers for evaluating potential rapid response actions.”

NOAA is committed to developing models and strategies to combat invasive species in a proactive and cost-effective manner. Thanks to GLRI funds, NOAA and partner agencies have been able to launch and expand several important projects.

Read on to learn more about NOAA’s Aquatic Invasive Species projects:

Food web modeling to support risk assessment of Asian carp in the Great Lakes

This project is analyzing long-term monitoring data on food web response and effects of controlled harvest of Asian carps in the Illinois River, a Great Lakes tributary where they have already invaded. THe food web models will be used to simulate Bighead and Silver Carp population growth and food web response in the Illinois River, and compare model-predicted impacts to observed impacts. and

GLANSIS: Improving information access

NOAA’s Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS) is a searchable database with species profiles, risk assessments, and distribution maps designed to improve stakeholder education, and inform prevention, management and control of aquatic nonindigenous species.,

Strategy to prevent invasive crayfish impacts to the Great Lakes basin: The Invasive Crayfish Collaborative

To help make progress toward regulatory uniformity, the Invasive Crayfish Collaborative (ICC) is working to summarize crayfish-related regulations and their interpretations; identify those wholesalers who are supplying crayfish to retail outlets in the basin; and facilitate a forum for the development of a five-year comprehensive strategic plan.

Contact: Patrice Charlebois, IL-IN Sea Grant,


See also: Invasives: Completed projects