It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and we’re celebrating with fun facts about Great Lakes invaders and tips for how you can help halt their spread.
Roughly 200 non-native species have already made a home in the Great Lakes region, and many more lurk on the horizon. Some, like zebra mussels and hydrilla, permanently impact the health of every new area waterway they invade by crowding out native species and altering water clarity, oxygen levels, and other key environmental characteristics.
Thanks in part to Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, scientists and government agencies have taken great steps in recent years towards controlling aquatic invasive species. For example, researchers at Notre Dame created tools to identify potential invaders and pinpoint where they may first take root. Collaborative projects like PhragNet are helping natural resource managers identify the most effective management and restoration strategies. And state and federal regulations are closing off some of the most common invasion pathways.
But there is still a lot individuals can do to fight the spread of aquatic invaders. Next time you go fishing, boating, or even swimming in a lake or river, remember these three easy steps:
- Remove any plants, animals, and mud from all equipment.
- Drain all water from your boat and gear.
- Dry everything thoroughly with a towel.
Water gardeners and aquarium hobbyists can also help by choosing native or non-invasive species. And we can all do our part by making sure we never dump plants, fish, animals, or the water they've been in into any waterbody.
We’ll have more facts, important resources, and even chances to test your knowledge of aquatic invasive species all week on Facebook and Twitter.
You can also take part in daily webinars hosted by University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. For more information and to register, visit www.nisaw.org/2015webinar.html.