Invasive Species News and Research, January 2021

Many conversations around invasive species are emerging in the new year, from their impact on insect populations and nutrients in lakes, to the ingenuity of researchers and those implementing invasive control practices.
Hemlock branch with white egg masses of Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

The staff and board of the North American Invasive Species Management Association review invasive species headlines each month. This helps us stay on top of trends and further our mission to support, promote, and empower invasive species prevention and management in North America. We then share invasive species news most relevant for people who manage terrestrial and aquatic invasive species across the the United States, Canada, Mexico and the world.

Success Stories: Prevention, Eradication and Restoration

Colorado Waters Test Free of Invasive Mussels; Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan Approved

Colorado – Read on Colorado Parks & Wildlife

As Green Mountain Reservoir was the only body of water in Colorado suspected of having a population of quagga mussels, this de-listing makes Colorado a completely negative state for both zebra and quagga mussels.

Prevention, Outreach and Education

Weed Science Society of America Cautions Against Poor Choices That Can Spread Invasive Weeds

Colorado — Read on WSSA News

Last year many people across the U.S. and Canada received unsolicited packets of seed believed to originate in China. Scientists with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) were among those to raise the alarm and say the seeds shouldn’t be planted. Authorities had discovered some packets contained noxious weed seeds that could threaten both agricultural and natural areas.

North America — Read on The New York Times

In advance of the growing season, it’s helpful for gardeners to acknowledge what went wrong in the previous year, and figure out what to do instead.

overhead image of hundreds of quagga mussels accumulated on an underwater surface
Quagga mussels, native to the Ponto-Caspian region of Eurasia, appeared in the Great Lakes in the late 1980’s and by late 2000’s spread over vast areas of bottom sediments in all the lakes except Lake Superior. Photo from University of Minnesota.

New Research

Invasive Mussels Now Control a Key Nutrient in the American Great Lakes

Great Lakes — Read on University of Minnesota

According to a new study published in the journal PNAS, quagga mussels, which have spread across four of the five Great Lakes, have accumulated large amounts of phosphorus in their biomass, to the degree that their activities now regulate the supply of phosphorus to the ecosystem.   

Researchers Find Nonnative Species in Oahu Play Greater Role in Seed Dispersal

Hawaii — Read on Science Daily and Wyoming Public Media

“This is one of the first studies showing that nonnative species can take over the most important roles in seed dispersal networks. This means that Oahu’s ecosystems have been so affected by species extinctions and invasions that most of the seeds dispersed on the island belong to nonnative plants, and most of them are dispersed by nonnative birds,” Vizentin-Bugoni says.

Detection, Management and Control

WSU Looks to Insects to Control ‘Beast’ Weed

Washington — Read/Listen on Chinook Observer

Washington State University entomologist and NAISMA biocontrol committee co-chair Jennifer Andreas plans to soon petition the USDA to allow a non-native insect be turned loose on an invasive weed that she calls, respectfully, “a beast.”

Flowering rush, an aquatic plant native to Eurasia, has escaped in the West, presenting a choking hazard to irrigation systems. Hard to pull and tough to poison, the weed has no natural North American predator to check its growth.

DEC gives update on fight against hemlock wooly adelgid

Hemlock branch with white egg masses of Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.
Signs of HWA on hemlock trees include white wooly masses (ovisacs) about one-quarter the size of a cotton swab on the underside of branches at the base of needles, gray-tinted foliage, and needle loss. Photo from Bugwood.
New York — Read on Adirondack Almanack
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and partners issued an update about ongoing efforts to limit the spread of the invasive pest Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA) on Forest Preserve lands in Washington County as part of an ongoing, multi-year initiative. 

Montana Approves Plan to Drain Lake to Kill Invasive Species

Montana — Read on The AP

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks approved a plan to drain Lake Elmo to kill an invasive species of clams.

USDA Investing $11.65m to Control Feral Swine

United States — Read on National Hog Farmer

This investment expands the pilot program to new projects in Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. NRCS will provide funding to partners who will provide financial assistance, education, outreach and trapping assistance to participating landowners in pilot project areas. 

Policy and Advocacy

Department of the Interior Releases Invasive Species Strategic Plan

United States — Read on U.S. Department of the Interior

The Plan sets out a vision for effectively managing invasive species through collaborative conservation to protect our nation’s environment and natural and cultural resources; economy and infrastructure; and public health. It both reflects ongoing work by Interior and its partners and leverages opportunities to respond to emerging issues.  This Plan will guide Interior’s work on invasive species in the next five years.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week: February 22-26, 2021

Ways to support NISAW:


Interior Department Announces Members of Biden-Harris Leadership Team

United States — Read on Department of the Interior
Martha Williams has been appointed Principal Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, by the Biden-Harris administration. Williams is the former director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which handle aquatic invasive species.

Government of Canada Invests $162.6 Million In CFIA

Canada — Read on Swift Current Online

This funding will increase the CFIA’s inspection, surveillance and oversight programs within Canada to respond to the detection of new food pathogens, invasive species and animal diseases that threaten Canada’s agricultural and natural resources.

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Diary from a Florida Bathroom

Florida – Read on Dispatches from a Sinking State

A personal essay on the science of invasive biology and emotions that come with controlling/killing living creatures.

How Non-Native Plants Are Contributing to a Global Insect Decline

Global — Read on Yale E360

The impact of introduced plants on native biodiversity has emerged as a hot-button issue in ecology. But recent research provides new evidence that the displacement of native plant communities is a key cause of a collapse in insect populations and is affecting birds as well.

Invasive Species Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Andrea Dávalos

New York — Read on New York Invasive Species Research Institute

By co-producing research with land managers, Dr. Andrea Dávalos ties her research on invasive species and associated stressors with the realities of the field– highlighting that monitoring the outcomes of management is of the utmost importance. 

A Profile of the White-nose Syndrome Challenge Winners

Oregon — Read on Conserving the Nature of the Northeast

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received 47 solutions for the White-nose Syndrome Challenge. The co-leaders recognized the opportunity for their experimental work in the lab to inform a conservation response in the field. “The idea is that if the fungal cells can no longer produce a gene it needs, the fungus can’t grow,” Emily Dziedzic explained.

A Pesky Rumble: Pink Bollworms Vs. Cotton Farmers

American Southwest — Read/Listen on NPR

We’ve got cotton farmers in the southwestern U.S. They’ve cooked up a wild scheme to wipe out the bug, eradicate it from Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Mexico.

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