Invasive Species Centre Impact: Invasive Plants & Citizen Science

Check out our new video featuring Community Education & Outreach Coordinator Lauren Bell for insights into invasive plant management and the role of citizen science in species reporting and tracking!
By: Ayushi Shah, ISC Policy & Program Development Coordinator

In 2017 and 2018, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), the Invasive Species Centre (ISC) conducted a study of Ontario municipalities to assess their annual expenditures on invasive species prevention, detection, control and management. Analysis and projection on this accumulated data indicate that Ontario municipalities and conservation authorities are collectively spending $38.8 million/year , or an average of $381,403/year per municipality . Protecting landscapes from invasive species is important because Ontario’s agriculture, fisheries, forests, healthcare, tourism, and recreation industries provide estimated economic benefits of $3.6 billion/year .

This year, we are working with the Regional Public Works Commissioners of Ontario (RPWCO) to update and refine this data. Read more about this year's economic impacts survey here and stay tuned for updated reports coming soon !
By: Dr. Chris MacQuarrie, Natural Resources Canada Research Scientist

Researchers with Natural Resources Canada with help from the Invasive Species Centre are embarking on a quest to find ash trees that have survived the emerald ash borer .

Since its introduction to North America sometime in the 1990s, the emerald ash borer has laid waste to millions of ash trees throughout Canada and the United States. In most places where the beetle was introduced, almost all the ash trees were killed within the first few years. However, we know that some trees do survive invasion by the emerald ash borer. We’re looking for these lucky survivors.

Read more about this study here ! If you've seen a healthy ash tree in an area devastated by emerald ash borer, you can fill out the survey here .
By: Lauren Bell, ISC Community Education & Outreach Coordinator

European common reed, known more commonly as phragmites , can be found throughout Ontario. Native to Europe, this invasive wetland species is thought to have been brought over in the 1800s to be used as roof thatching. This invasive plant poses several issues such as creating dense stands that choke out native species, impeding wildlife from crossing, creating fire hazards with their dry, dead stocks, and creating traffic hazards by obstructing views.

Before trying to manage phragmites, it is important to remember that there is a native variety present in Ontario as well. Distinguishing between the two is an important first step to any phragmites management plan. A great tool for identifying native vs. invasive phragmites can be found here , from the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative. 

Read more about phragmites management in water here !
By: Mackenzie DiGasparro, ISC Policy & Program Intern

Climate change has already had observable effects on our environment. Science predicts that temperatures will continue to rise, growing seasons will lengthen, rainfall and severe weather patterns will change, and droughts and heat waves will become more intense. There are many ways to help mitigate the progression and impacts of climate change, but did you know that helping prevent the spread of invasive species is one of them?

Read more about the relationship between climate change and invasive species here !
By: David Dutkiewicz, ISC Insect Diagnostician

Over the past number of years, the march of the forest tent caterpillar ( Malacosoma disstria ) has been ramping up. This species, also referred to sometimes as “army worms”, can become a major pest in Canadian forests. But rest assured – forest tent caterpillars are not an invasive species ! Invasive forest pests usually cause rapid tree mortality due to a lack of host tree defences. While forest tent caterpillars can cause major disturbance in the forest canopy, their relationship with forests has been evolving for hundreds of years allowing, in most cases, minor impacts to the forest as a whole.  

Learn more about forest tent caterpillars and other native relatives here .
By: Rebecca Schroeder, ISC Aquatic Invasive Species Liaison

Every year since 2010, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee has released an Asian Carp Action Plan for the Great Lakes Basin. This committee consists of members from the Great Lakes region, including state, provincial, and federal organizations. Their action plans work to prevent the spread of Asian carps into the Great Lakes and they incorporate current advances in science and technology. The 2019 Asian Carp Action Plan was released, and it includes new prevention and control efforts such as expanding Asian carp population reductions along established fronts by using refined and more effective sampling and harvesting techniques, large-scale field trials of new barrier and deterrent technologies, such as underwater sound and carbon dioxide, and actions to address the growing threats of grass and black carp. The Action Plan also addresses priorities for early detection and monitoring of all life stages of Asian carps, support for the electric dispersal barriers in the Chicago Area Waterway System, contingency response, pathway mitigation and communication and outreach. Read the 2019 Asian Carp Action Plan.

You can also learn more about Asian carp prevention in Canadian waters by checking out Protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carps , a new video released by Fisheries and Oceans Canada!

Photo by USFWS; Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee
ICAIS will end with a unique event: a special session on " Integrating Invasion Science and Management across Realms: Learning from Terrestrial, Marine and Freshwater Experiences ". This session aims to identify ways in which knowledge and tools can be more effectively exchanged between scientists and managers working in different study systems. It will compare successes and challenges for risk assessment, eradication, biological control and other management approaches used to deal with invasive species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. The session will feature a series of 15-min talks by invited speakers who will share their experiences and present case studies, followed by a moderated panel discussion which will be open to questions from the audience. Learn more at  
2019 Sault Ste. Marie Science Festival a success
This year the Invasive Species Centre was fortunate to once again take part in the planning and implementation of the Sault Ste. Marie Science Festival. The Festival consisted of several events over the week of April 23-27, including Science Trivia Night, ARTIE, Science for Seniors, and the 2019 Science Carnival. It was a privilege to partake in these events and an excellent opportunity to explore invasive species prevention and management with students and families in the Sault Ste. Marie community!
Protecting our natural spaces and economy from invasive species impacts
This May, the Invasive Species Centre hosted an event in partnership with MPP Ross Romano to announce support from the Government of Ontario for invasive species prevention and management. The ISC is committed to finding efficiencies in the fight against invasive species and thank Minister Yakabuski, MPP Romano, and the Government of Ontario for their support and commitment to protecting our natural spaces and economy from the impacts of invasive species.
House of Commons Standing Committee invitation
The House of Common’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans invited the Invasive Species Centre to appear before the Committee to contribute to its study of aquatic invasive species (AIS). The Committee is completing a study to examine Fisheries and Oceans’ aquatic invasive species program. This study will assess the program’s resources dedicated to preventing and eliminating aquatic invasive species and determine if they are distributed across the country consistently and equitably. It will also assess if the AIS program has the resources it requires to be effective in its mandate.

Some of the Invasive Species Centre recommendations included:
  • Using a transparent and efficient system for screening and assessing risk to better enable priority setting for funding and action by an integrated, national AIS program
  • Scanning the horizon for threats beyond species already on our radar – forward-thinking and based in science
  • Creating a state of preparedness with an increase to resource allocation to do this effectively
  • Focusing on early stages of an invasion: prevention, early detection, and rapid response
  • Continuing to enhance coordination to more effectively implement the Regulations including integrated strategies with US neighbours
  • Increasing capacity to implement the AIS Regulations by giving enforcers necessary tools and training such as a national standard reporting tool to address data gaps and inform planning and a national fund that could also be established in collaboration with Provincial partners to mitigate delays and support response in an efficient way. 
The Invasive Species Centre commends the Standing Committee’s work and dedication to preventing the spread of AIS in Canada, and we were honoured to be invited to speak. Listen to the full session here .
Hot topics in invasive species this summer
This quarter, the Invasive Species Centre had the opportunity to contribute guest blogs about invasive species to Nature Manitoba and the Nature Conservancy of Canada . Topics included emerald ash borer in Manitoba , beech leaf disease , garden invasives , and zebra and quagga mussels . It was a privilege to collaborate with these hard-working environmental organizations!
Out and about in the Algoma region
With summer in full swing, we’ve been fortunate to attend exciting events in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding areas. Some highlights include the Rankin Arena Spring Outdoors Show, the Sustain Algoma Expo, and the 1st Annual Provincial Student Committee Career Fair! We’re looking forward to an exciting season packed with events and opportunities to talk about invasive species! 
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