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PSU and U.S. Geological Survey to Work on Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database
Author: David Santen, Office of University Communications (503-725-8789)
Posted: February 7, 2007

Curious about what invasive species might be lurking in your local lake or river? The Aquatic Bioinvasion Research and Policy Institute, a joint effort by the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs at Portland State University (PSU) and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), has initiated a collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on a national database of aquatic invasive species that will let you find out.

The USGS “Nonindigenous Aquatic Species” database ( tracks non-native freshwater species, allows viewing of interactive maps; data queries by species, state, or hydrologic drainage; access to general fact sheets; photographs; reporting of new sightings and sign-up for automatic alerts by species group or specific states of interest.

Under terms of the agreement, PSU will maintain the aquatic plant section of the database and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Florida Integrated Science Center will maintain the animal section. (The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center currently maintains a similar database for marine invaders,

Combined, these databases are the nation’s primary repositories of accurate and spatially referenced biogeographic accounts of freshwater and marine nonindigenous aquatic animals and plants. This new partnership builds capacity to the project, adding plant species location records nationwide, with an additional focus on new plant and animal invasions in the Pacific Northwest.

“This collaboration with the USGS expands the scope and capabilities of the Aquatic Bioinvasion Research and Policy Institute,” said Mark Sytsma, co-director of the Aquatic Bioinvasion Research and Policy Institute and an associate professor in Environmental Science at Portland State University. The database will permit scientists and managers to better understand how invasive species spread and may be used to identify areas potentially vulnerable to invasion.

About Aquatic Bioinvasions
Biological invasions have wide-ranging and potent effects on species diversity, ecosystem services, food resources, water supplies and human health. In the U.S. alone, annual economic losses due to these invasions are estimated to exceed $137 billion, impacting many dimensions of society. The rate of new invasions has increased tremendously, at times exponentially, throughout the world—an expected but unintentional outcome of globalization of trade and travel. Organisms are transferred between global regions at ever faster rates with people and commodities. Examples of resulting invasions abound, including the Eurasian zebra mussels that spread rapidly throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley (and now threaten the western U.S.) and the European green crab that now occurs along both the U.S. Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Various activities such as transoceanic shipping and overland transport of boats breach natural barriers to species dispersal, such as ocean basins or mountains, and allow non-native species to establish populations beyond their historical geographic ranges, and result in biological invasions. Developing ways to conduct trade in a manner that is ecologically as well as economically sustainable is crucial to a vibrant economy and a priority for Oregon and the United States. Currently, there are no broad-based programs advancing an effective, multidisciplinary approach to managing these biological invasions.

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Mark Sytsma, PSU, 503-725-3833,,
Pam Fuller, U.S. Geological Survey, 352-264-3481,,
Greg Ruiz, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 443-482-2227,,