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.



For information about any of these resources contact Sara Stahlman.

Pennsylvania Sea Grant is pleased to share the "Pennsylvania Watercraft Inspection Handbook." This tool is designed for organizations interested in developing their own watercraft inspection program and as a training tool for state agencies piloting watercraft inspection in Pennsylvania. It is adapted from several other existing resources including, the "New York State Watercraft Inspection Steward Program Handbook,"  PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Pymatuning State Park's "Handbook for Inspection Stewards," and the "Wisconsin Clean Boats, Clean Waters Handbook," developed by the University of Wisconsin Extension, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Lakes. 

This handbook is a work in progress, and Pennsylvania Sea Grant will work with partners to update and revise the materials as needed. This publication was funded in part by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Please contact Sarah Whitney (, 610-304-8753) if you have any questions or are interested in receiving training to develop a watercraft inspection program.  

Photo of educational invasive species cardsRequest your ‘Attack Pack’
Pennsylvania Sea Grant has “Aquatic Invaders Attack Packs” available to lend to teachers and others involved in educational programs about aquatic invasive species. The “Attack Pack” includes various educational materials; a classroom guide; a sea lamprey model; giant posters of the Silver and Bighead Asian Carp; acrylic block specimens with zebra mussels; rusty crayfish; a round goby; and a Eurasian ruffe; and “Pennsylvania’s Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species.” To request an “Attack Pack,” contact Sara Stahlman, extension leader, at or (814) 217-9011, ext.109. 

"Aquatic Invaders in Pennsylvania"

Train-the-Trainer style Powerpoint slide decks, are available at no cost to help identify, manage, and prevent aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Pennsylvania. Topics include characteristics of aquatic invasive species, potential impacts, how they spread, and management and prevention techniques. These resources are available to teachers, resource managers, and other individuals or organizations that may be dealing with AIS in a professional capacity, and are available upon request by contacting Sara Stahlman, Exension Leader at or 814.217.9011, ext. 109. 

.presentation cover for AIS slide deck   presentation topic page


Aquatic Invasive Species Lunch n’ Learn Webinars

Pennsylvania Sea Grant often hosts webinars for professionals working with aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Pennsylvania. While focused on topics for resource managers and others working with AIS, anyone interested in AIS topics is invited to participate. There are currently no new webinars scheduled. The webinars listed below are examples of topics covered.

How to Develop a Watercraft Inspection Program to Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are species found outside their natural geographic range that cause ecological or economic harm, or harm to human health. Recreational boating is one pathway that can move plants and animals from one water body to another in a short amount of time, which can lead to the spread of aquatic invasive species. One way to prevent their spread is to inspect a boat or trailer and remove any visible plants, animals, or organic materials before launching into a different lake or pond. Contact Sarah Whitney, Director, for details

How Mock Scenarios are Shaping the Future of Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response
The Governor’s Invasive Species Council of Pennsylvania approved the Pennsylvania Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Rapid Response plan in September 2014. Since that time, it been used to conduct rapid response trainings, or exercises that mock the actions necessary when dealing with a new infestation of an AIS species. Past rapid response exercises have trained professionals how to properly report and address new infestations. This presentation will provide an overview of the rapid response process in Pennsylvania, highlight key and updated aspects of the plan, and discuss results of past mock exercises to ensure all participants are up to date on AIS rapid response process in Pennsylvania.  Contact Sara Stahlman, Extension Leader, for details

Additional Tools for Resource Managers:

In Person Training, Mock Exercises

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 often hosts workshops for resource managers and biologists 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. 

These exercises are generally centered around a mock scenario, whereby an invasive species has been identified in a watershed and action must be taken. Participants are 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 infestation. Discussions at each step help address existing gaps and challenges in the plan and identify ways to streamline the rapid response process in Pennsylvania.

Access the latest rapid response After-Action Report, March 2019 New Zealand mudsnail

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. 

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