By Katherine Glassner-Shwayder, NOAA Affiliate
Rochelle Sturtevant, NOAA Regional Sea Grant Specialist
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The health of the Great Lakes ecosystem has been jeopardized for decades by invasions of more than 180 aquatic nonindigenous species. These non-native species include fish, plants and pathogens that arrived here in many ways, from seeds carried by early European settlers to ballast water from ocean-going vessels.
Major challenges in managing the Great Lakes ecosystem include understanding how aquatic nonindigenous species are introduced and spread, how they can change native ecosystems and impact the regional economy, and methods for prevention and control.
To establish a united front in the battle against Great Lakes aquatic invasions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory has helped to create the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS).
GLANSIS is a node of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database. It’s a “one-stop shop” that presents information on aquatic invaders in US and Canadian waters which are causing ecological and economic impacts, and supports research and management in the Great Lakes region by providing a foundation of peer-reviewed information on which to base management strategies.
GLANSIS houses information on the identification, distribution, ecology, impact, and management of all established aquatic nonindigenous species in the Great Lakes — as well as several species that have been identified as high risk for future invasions.
A recent product based on GLANSIS is the technical report, “An overview of the management of established nonindigenous species in the Great Lakes,” which provides a snapshot of management practices targeting established nonindigenous species in the Great Lakes region. The toolbox of practices ranges from chemical to physical to biocontrol.
The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory has invested in GLANSIS to ensure that a comprehensive framework is created that compiles information on aquatic nonindigenous species from different sources. This allows comparisons across taxonomic groups on a region-wide perspective. In other words, you can make comparisons and set priorities across species ranging from zebra mussels to yellow flag iris, or from a sensitive wetland in northern Minnesota to the open water of Lake Ontario.
The components developed as part of GLANSIS include:
- Comprehensive technical fact sheets on each of the 186 non-native species established in the Great Lakes, 12 species identified as expanding ranges within the Great Lakes, and 67 species identified as at risk of invading the Great Lakes
- Species-specific information supporting early detection, rapid response, risk assessment and control efforts
- Detailed maps and associated collection records for thousands of individual reports of non-native species in the Great Lakes basin.
Recognizing the severity of this ongoing environmental problem, the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory has maintained a lead role in tracking aquatic nonindigenous species from waters around the world and the spread of these species throughout the Great Lakes. The data and information made accessible by GLANSIS is critical to building our capacity to protect and restore the Great Lakes aquatic ecosystem.