Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
Wisconsin’s 15,000 lakes and 45,000 miles of streams are among the state’s most valuable natural resources. The abundance, diversity, and quality of Wisconsin’s aquatic resources provide the cornerstone of the state’s multi-billion travel and tourism industry, in addition to a wide range of recreational opportunities, and environmental and aesthetic benefits. Unfortunately, there is an ever-expanding threat to our aquatic resources. Nuisance exotic species have already taken over the Great Lakes, causing major ecological and economic damage. Increasingly, they are spreading to inland lakes and streams by hitchhiking on recreational boats, and spreading through interconnected waterways, rivers, and canals. What does the arrival of these new nuisance species mean for our inland waters? And more importantly, what can we do to stop their spread and reduce their impacts?
In response to these questions, researchers at the Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin – Madison have been conducting studies that are relevant to understanding and managing aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin. The central theme of this work can be summarized as ‘smart prevention’ (Vander Zanden and Olden 2008). Because invasive species are often difficult to eliminate once they establish and spread, preventing their introduction and spread is generally the best management option. But with approximately 15,000 lakes in Wisconsin, how and where should these prevention efforts be focused? Our research has aimed at identifying the lakes and streams that are most vulnerable to invasive species: those where invasive species are likely to be introduced, survive, and have undesired impacts (Fig. 1; Vander Zanden et al. 2004; Vander Zanden and Maxted 2008). Answering these questions has proven to be challenging. Yet with such knowledge in hand, prevention, enforcement, and monitoring efforts can be directed more effectively.
In addition to the vulnerability research described above, we have addressed a wide range of other questions relating to the spread, impact, control, and management of aquatic invasive species (see links to species accounts). For example, recent research has found that lakes created by dams are much more likely to be invaded than their non-dammed counterparts (Havel et al. 2005; Johnson et al. 2008).
The goal of this website is to help make the results of recent research on aquatic invasive species spread, impact, and management conducted at the UW-Madison available to resource managers, residents, and concerned citizens. We provide links to species accounts for several invasive species that we work on. In addition to the brief descriptions of our findings presented here, we also provide pdfs of scientific publications that describe our research in greater detail. We hope that our efforts to communicate the result of this research are helpful in some way in the ongoing efforts to minimize the adverse effects of invasive species in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
For support of our efforts to study and communicate the impacts of aquatic invasive species in our waters, we acknowledge the support of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the National Science Foundation North-Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research Program.
Vander Zanden, M.J., G.J.A. Hansen, S.N. Higgins, M.S. Kornis. 2010. A pound of prevention, plus a pound of cure: Early detection and eradication of invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research 36:199-205. PDF
Johnson, P.T., J.D. Olden, M.J. Vander Zanden. 2008. Dam invaders: impoundments facilitate biological invasions in freshwaters. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6:357-63. PDF
Vander Zanden, M.J. and J.T. Maxted. 2008. Species invasions in Wisconsin lakes and streams. Pages 423-438 In The vanishing present: Wisconsin’s changing lands, waters, and wildlife. Edited by D.M. Waller and T.P. Rooney. University of Chicago Press. PDF
Vander Zanden, M.J. and J.D. Olden. 2008. A management framework for preventing the secondary spread of aquatic invasive species. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65 (7): 1512-22. PDF
Havel, J.E., C.E. Lee, M.J. Vander Zanden. 2005. Do reservoirs facilitate invasions into landscapes? BioScience 55: 518-252. PDF
Vander Zanden, M.J. 2005. The success of animal invaders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.) 102: 7055-7056. PDF
Vander Zanden, M. J., J. D. Olden, J. H. Thorne, and N. E. Mandrak. 2004. Predicting occurrences and impacts of smallmouth bass introductions in north-temperate lakes. Ecological Applications 14: 132-148. PDF