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Environmental Assessment

Predicting Future Introductions of Nonindigenous Species to the Great Lakes (Final Report)

Notice

EPA is announcing the availability of this final report in a January 5, 2009 Federal Register Notice.

Report Information

EPA has released a final report entitled, Predicting Future Introductions of Nonindigenous Species to the Great Lakes. This report predicts the spread of aquatic nonindigenous species into the Great Lakes to help resource managers focus monitoring activities on particular species at the most vulnerable U.S. Great Lakes ports. The report also demonstrates the use of a habitat suitability model and ballast water discharge data to predict invasion potential.

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Jeffrey B. Frithsen
  • by phone at:   703-347-8623
  • by fax at:   202-565-0061
  • by email at:  frithsen.jeff@epa.gov

Background

Cover of the Great Lakes Invasive Species Report The U.S. Great Lakes have suffered ecological damage and incurred substantial economic costs from a number of aquatic nonindigenous species (NIS) that have successfully invaded this region. Ballast water from commercial shipping is the primary means by which NIS have entered the Great Lakes. Preventing the transport of NIS to the region is the best way to avoid their potential adverse impacts, but if this is not possible, the next best alternative is to monitor for their arrival and control their spread. To predict future invasions of NIS in the Great Lakes, the two most important determinants of successful invasions were evaluated: whether there is suitable habitat in the Great Lakes for nonnative species and whether there are a sufficient number of these organisms and their larvae arriving in the Great Lakes. First, a species distribution model was used to identify the areas of the Great Lakes which could provide suitable habitat for NIS of concern. Second, commercial shipping and ballast water discharge data were used to evaluate if there are a sufficient number of these organisms entering the Great Lakes to become established.

The primary goal of this report is to help scientists and managers to better focus aquatic NIS monitoring activities and resources by identifying new invasive species, their potential to spread, and the U.S. Great Lakes ports most susceptible to invasion. Another goal is to demonstrate the use of a habitat suitability model and ballast water discharge data to predict invasion potential. Clients for this report include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office, Great Lakes port officials, the U.S. Coast Guard, environmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. and Canada concerned about invasive species, and invasion biologists.

This report was subjected to an independent external peer review and the reviewer’s comments were used to revise the draft report. These comments focused on the need to include ballast water discharge data in the analysis, discuss new regulations that were developed to better invasions from ballast water, and update the literature review of the quagga mussel. All of these comments have been addressed.

History/Chronology

Jan 2008External review draft report was released.
Jan 2009EPA released the final report.

Next Steps

This is the final report.

Citation

U.S. EPA. Predicting Future Introductions of Nonindigenous Species to the Great Lakes (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-08/066F, 2008.

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