Invasive species are non-native species that have detrimental impact on ecosystems and native species. Both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species can be spread through innocuous actions or activities like boating, fishing, hiking, land development, or even the transport of firewood. However, there are other, more direct actions that lead to the introduction of an invasive species such as releasing an aquarium pet into a waterway or lake.
No matter how they arrive, invasive aquatic and terrestrial species are making their way across Pennsylvania and beyond, and unfortunately, controlling and/or eradicating them is expensive and time-consuming.
In order to combat invasive species, former Governor Ed Rendell, in 2004 established the Governor’s Invasive Species Council. The Council is chaired by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and individuals representing numerous organizations, local government, environmental advocacy, and other industries serve on the Council.
The Council provides a forum for members to meet with a common purpose of identifying invasive species of concern that currently or could potentially threaten this Commonwealth’s natural and agricultural resources and the industries they support. The Council advises the Governor about threats, direct the development and implementation of a State invasive species management plan, provide guidance on prevention, control and rapid response initiatives, and facilitate coordination among Federal, regional, State and local efforts, and other duties.
Pennsylvania Sea Grant is a member of Council and works with many partners in the water and on the land to identify, survey, and control invasive species. Outreach specialists also provide training for resource managers on invasive species identification and remediation, develop educational tools and resources for a variety of audiences, and host informational events, workshops, and presentations both in-person and virtually.
Nearly 200 invasive species exist in the Great Lakes. A new species appears in the watershed every six to eight months.
Aquatic Invasive Species
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are non-native species including fish, plants, reptiles, and even algae or pathogens that cause harm to the environment, the economy, and human or animal health. Preventing their spread is vital because they disrupt ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, and are expensive and difficult to control and remove.
Terrestrial Invasive Species
Pennsylvania Sea Grant outreach specialists and partners survey, identify and control terrestrial invasive plant species in habitats of concern in western Pennsylvania. Terrestrial invasive plants include trees, shrubs, vines, grasses and herbaceous plants.