What are aquatic invasive species? The following is one of many different definitions: “a non-native species introduced to an aquatic ecosystem that causes environmental and/or economic harm.” Other terms such as “exotic species” and “nuisance species” are used interchangeably with invasive species. Aquatic invasive species have come to the forefront of issues impacting our lakes, streams, and wetlands and are increasingly the focus of PBWOA and other watershed associations and council groups.
What are the impacts of aquatic invasive species? There are both economic and ecological impacts, both of which are quite serious. Economically, there are losses in tourism, sports-fisheries, industry and more. In Michigan, fishing expenditures alone exceed $800,000,000 per year, a figure that could drop substantially as aquatic invasive species disrupt ecosystems and impact fisheries. Losses in the U.S. are estimated at $78.5 billion annually and studies have estimated lost property values on infested water bodies of up to $12,000 per property. Ecologically, aquatic invasive species’ impacts include food-web disruptions, native species reduction or loss (and dependent species), water quality degradation, and the introduction of pathogens. Furthermore, ecosystem disruptions and imbalances can result in increased danger to human health.