Aquatic Invasive Species 


Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are non-native plants, animals, or pathogens that cause harm to the environment, the economy, and human or animal health. 

Preventing their spread is important because once introduced, these species disrupt ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, and cost communities huge amounts of time, money, resources, and lost revenue. 

The Pennsylvania Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan was developed by members of the PA Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan Committee, for the Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council (PISC). The goal of the management plan is to minimize the harmful ecological, economic, and human health impacts of aquatic invasive species through the prevention and management of their introduction, expansion and dispersal into, within, and from Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania AIS Rapid Response Plan is a support tool, also developed by the PA Invasive Species Council. The Plan provides a structured method to help guide agencies and organizations in conducting a coordinated, structured, and timely response to new infestations. 

Pennsylvania Sea Grant is a member of PISC and offers various print and online educational resources, training sessions and webinars to natural resource managers and biologists from federal and state agencies and other organizations that may be dealing with AIS in a professional capacity. Resources, such as public information session, fact sheets, and other educational resources are available for the general public as well.

In-Person Training, Mock Exercises, and Webinars

Pennsylvania Sea Grant offers training exercises tailored for professional resource managers and biologists from federal and state agencies and organizations, and others tasked with official reporting of aquatic invasive species. PA Sea Grant recently hosted a workshop for resource managers and biologists in Erie, PA to participate in a mock rapid response exercise designed to familiarize aquatic invasive species professionals with the fundamentals of the rapid response process in Pennsylvania. 

The exercise was centered around a mock scenario in which the invasive plant, Hydrilla verticillata was introduced into the Lake Erie Watershed. Participants were asked to respond to this scenario as though the infestation had actually occurred, using the plan to get through each step and developing an action plan to address the Hydrilla infestation.  Discussions at each step helped address existing gaps and challenges in the plan and identify ways to streamline the rapid response process in Pennsylvania.

Download the 2017 After-Action Report, which summarizes the exercise and recommendations.   

Watch a recorded webinar. 

For information about future training sessions and webinars, contact Sara Stahlman.



Pennsylvania Sea Grant offers a variety of resources to help protect Pennsylvania's waters from AIS through prevention, early detection, and rapid response. Resources include fact sheets to help identify specific species, guides for boaters and anglers to take steps to stop the spread of AIS, and AIS focused curriculum for educators. These, and many other educational tools can be found on our AIS Resources page.

Also available are the Pennsylvania Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species Guide and the Mid-Atlantic Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species, which offer tips for prevention, identification, reporting & collecting, and details like habitat, environmental impacts, maps depicting species location and spread, and helpful tips to avoid mis-identification of ‘look-alike’ species. 

A few things to have on hand, and tips for in-field identification:


• Pennsylvania Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species
• Camera
• Hand lens
• GPS Units
• Notebooks

Action Steps:
• Record Latitude and Longitude
• Provide driving directions to the nearest access point
• Take notes about the location, habitat and environmental conditions, and size of the infestation
• Take clear, close-up digital photographs from different angles
• Include a reference object to establish scale
• Take photos of the immediate environment where the sighting occurred, provide distinguishing characteristics and good background contrast. 


Visit our Aquatic Invasive Species Resources page for more information, to download fact sheets, prevention tips, posters, and field guides. 


Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011