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By January 5, 2015 1 Comments Read More →

Fighting the Curve

By Andrea Locke, Coordinator, WNY PRISM and Hilary R. Mosher, Coordinator, FL-PRISM


Prevention is the best and first line of defense when it comes to managing invasive species, but even the best prevention efforts will be unable to stop all invasive species from becoming established in a given area. Early detection and rapid response (EDRR) increases the likelihood that invasions will be controlled while populations are still localized and at low levels that can more easily be contained and eradicated. Once an invasive species becomes well established, it is significantly more difficult and expensive to control (Figure 1). In many cases, once a species reaches that point, all that may be possible is a lessening of their negative impacts.



Figure 1. Generalized invasion curve showing actions appropriate to each stage. Photo credit: Department of Primary Industries, Australia


Successful EDRR programs identify potential threats in time to allow effective measures to be taken to prevent the spread and permanent establishment of invasive species. In addition, the costs associated with EDRR efforts are typically far less than those of long-term invasive species management programs.  Invasive species can spread rapidly and there is a critical need to coordinate EDRR efforts, which is one of the many tasks for the PRISMs.


Early detection and rapid response depends on both the ability to identify the threat and the existence of effective management options. One of the first steps is to get as many trained eyes as possible, on the ground looking for and reporting sightings of these species. iMapInvasives is an online database and mapping tool that supports efforts to protect New York State from invasive species. Once trained, anyone can enter invasive species reports and use the information to find other populations. We encourage people to get trained in invasive species identification and in how to use this important tool. Both the WNY- and FL-PRISMs host a number of iMapInvasives trainings each spring and the FL-PRISM will train any group of 15 or more people in iMapInvasives and invasives identification. Contact your PRISM coordinator for more information and to set up a training.


An example of EDRR in action is the water chestnut survey and eradication efforts in Chautauqua County and Monroe County. Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an aggressive aquatic plant that was only recently discovered in Chautauqua County. It has the potential to choke ponds, lakes and slower moving portions of streams and rivers thereby severely affecting wildlife habitat and greatly reducing the recreational value of those waterways. Early detection has provided an incredible opportunity to remove the species before it becomes well established.


Figure 2. A patch of floating water chestnut (Trapa natans) photo credit: www.nyis.info


A working group including Conewango Creek Watershed Association, Jamestown Audubon and other WNY PRISM Partners has formed to lead the eradication effort within the Conewango Creek and upper Allegheny River Watershed.  Eradication efforts will consist of mostly hand-pulling the plant, which wouldn’t be possible with higher population levels. While in Monroe County, a group of concerned citizens, NYS DEC, Genesee Valley Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, and NYS Parks came out on five different occasions to pull nearly five tons of the plant. We anticipate control efforts will be needed in this area for many years to come. These efforts would not be possible if not for the participation of area residents reporting sightings of this invasive species.


Another example of EDRR in action is the discovery of hemlock woolly adelgeid (HWA, Aldeges tsugae) in Onanda Park in Ontario County and other gullies within the central region of Canandaigua Lake. These newly discovered infestations show expansion of its former range contained in the southern portion of the Lake. HWA is a small, aphid-like invasive insect that is native to Asia. It attacks hemlock trees and slowly kills them over a span of up to ten years. HWA are identified easily in the winter when they cover themselves in a white waxy coating that is easily detectable as small white balls at the base of the needles of a hemlock branch. HWA poses a serious threat to watershed health as hemlocks act as a keystone species in this community. Emily Staychock (CCE Invasive Species Team) and the FL-PRISM are hosting a public forum on February 25th during National Invasive Species Awareness Week, to inform the public about ways to treat infestations and how to identify the invasive aphid. Stay tuned for more information about this important educational event.



Figure 3. Hemlock woolly adelgid on the branches of a hemlock. Photo credit: www.nyis.info


For more information on WNY PRISM or on how to become part of the WNY PRISM Early Detectors Network, please contact Andrea Locke, WNY PRISM Coordinator at lockeas@buffalostate.edu. For more information on FL-PRISM or on how to become part of the FL-PRISM Early Detection Team, please contact Hilary R. Mosher, FL-PRISM Coordinator at mosher@hws.edu. Please visit www.nyis.info or fingerlakesinvasives.org for more information about the water chestnut, HWA, or other invasives in your area!

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