About Invasive species
What is an invasive or invasive alien species (IAS)?
Answer: An invasive species or an invasive alien species is defined as a plant, animal or pathogen that is not native to an area, and "whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health." [according to US Executive Order 13112. 1999]
Are all invasive species alien, exotic, or foreign?
Answer: Not necessarily. In invasive species terminology, the words alien, exotic, and foreign are often used interchangeably and mean not native to the habitat in question. Some invasive species are native species that naturally occur in a habitat but are experiencing a population explosion in response to an unnatural influence such as disturbance by humans (dandelions can cause economic harm even where they are native). "Invasive" in its narrowest sense simply describes a species that is causing harm to other species. Invasive species can be alien to an environment or habitat, to a state, or to an area of an ocean, for example. Both the US government and this Web site use the term "invasive species" to mean invasive alien species.
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How do invasive species get to the USA?
Answer: Invasive species arrive in the United States through many different pathways and may be carried by vectors; some pathways are intentional, others accidental. For example Japanese stiltgrass (
) was probably accidentally introduced to the United States as dried packaging material in shipments of ceramics. The sudden 1999 appearance of West Nile virus in the metropolitan New York City area made scientists suspect an infected animal had arrived at a NYC airport, but the epidemiology is difficult to track. Mosquitoes (mostly
species) are the most common vectors (carriers of a pathogen) that spread West Nile virus.
One intentional pathway that has been used to transport invasive species is horticulture. For example, beginning in 1876 kudzu was imported, distributed, and sold for many years as a ground cover, for forage, and to prevent erosion. Kudzu was later listed by the USDA as a noxious weed, but subsequently de-listed because it is too abundant to eradicate successfully (there are more than 2 million acres of kudzu, mainly in the southeast US). Often it is difficult to determine if a pathway is deliberate or accidental. Although the northern snakehead fish (
spp.) was intentionally imported for human consumption, it was either intentionally or accidentally released. Hitchhiking in ballast water is also a commonly recognized accidental pathway for a broad array of aquatic invasive species, from the zebra mussel (
) to the round goby (
about Vectors and Pathways at the National Invasive Species Information Center.
Where can I get pictures of invasive species?
Answer: The NBII Digital Image Library has begun to build a collection of high-resolution JPG images of invasive plants and animals (and other photos). Other sources of invasive species images include the image gallery at http://www.invasive.org (a collaborative effort of the Bugwood Network, USDA Forest Service and APHIS-PPQ), Discover Life's species search, and The Nature Conservancy's Invasive Species Initiative's Image Archive. Please be sure to read each resource's rules for use of their images, to respect ownership, and to credit the photographer/owner if you use them.
Comprehensive lists of invasive species image galleries are maintained on the National Framework for Early Detection, Rapid Assessment and Rapid Response to Invasive Species, and on the National Invasive Species Information Center Web sites.
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Where can I get invasive species data or statistics?
Answer: There are extensive invasive species databases available online; some are regional in scope, and some are related to specific types of species. An extensive descriptive list of online invasive species information systems (the "GISIN Databases List") is available through the Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN). For information that is related to specific US states, see our data and maps, species checklists, identification guides, and watch lists sections.
If you are a fan of blogs, try this invasive species blog maintained by Jennifer Forman Orth. And finally, if you are specifically looking for statistics, the United States government does not maintain invasive species statistics at a national level but the Australian Bureau of Statistics maintains a site about their progress on controlling invasive species as of 2002.
If you would like to collect first-hand invasive species data, contact or volunteer with a citizen science or community group in your area.
How can I learn more about invasive species?
Answer: Visit the Global Invasive Species Database, an excellent invasive species profile database with a wealth of general information. The ISIN's state resources pages provide specific information on invasive species in your state, and our education and outreach section provides a list of resources for students and teachers. If you're a gardener, you might find the information in our gardening section useful, or see the National Invasive Species Information Center's Web site. A simple internet search using the keywords 'invasive species' will also return an extensive list of Web resources on the subject.
I learn more about biofuels that may be invasive?
Answer: Plant species that are selected for
development as biofuels are often chosen
because they exhibit at least some of the same characteristics that make
invasive (e.g., rapid growth, large number of seeds). For more
the issues related to invasive plants as biofuels, see our Biofuels & Invasive Plants page.
Where can I find definitions for invasive species related terminology and acronyms?
Answer: Visit the new Invasive Alien Species Concepts, Terms and Context (IAS-CTC) System developed by CAB International, "a leading global not-for-profit organisation... [concerned with] the generation, dissemination and use of knowledge in the applied biosciences to enhance development, human welfare and the environment." The IAS-CTC is "a tool for users who want to see how specific terms are defined in particular contexts", in this case, the context is invasive alien species. "In this 'proof of concept' prototype, you will find terminology from scientific, policy, legal and other literature." For acronym definitions try searching Acronym Finder. If your acronym or definition is not in the Acronym Finder's database, you can submit a request to have it included.
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About Invasive Species Identification
How can I identify an invasive species?
Answer: The National Framework for Early Detection, Rapid Assessment, and Rapid Response to Invasive Species Web site developed by the NBII maintains a comprehensive catalog of resources to help you identify invasive species including online checklists and identification guides or keys, species profiles, and image galleries. If you have a specific question or need help with identifying or reporting an invasive species, please contact us.
I think I have found an invasive species. What should I do now?
Answer: If you found the invasive species on your own property, you can take a picture or collect a sample plant or animal to document the occurrence. If it is not on your own property, a photograph is usually the only appropriate record and may be sufficient. All occurrence reports require detailed notes including date (day-month-year), location (latitude/longitude or details of state, county, township, and description sufficient to relocate the site), collector (full name and contact info such as email or phone), and any additional notes the collector feels might be useful. The preservation of collected specimens can be complex and varies depending on the organism, so beginning with a digital image is often the best approach. Report your sighting to your local Fish and Wildlife representative for invasive species, or use the resources included in the Report and Expertise sections of the National Framework for Invasive Species EDRR Web site to find the right people or organization to notify.
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About Reporting Invasive Species Sightings
How can I report an invasive species sighting?
Answer: Be sure that you have used appropriate identification guides. Depending on your location and the kind of invasive species you find, there are different reporting options. After collecting appropriate evidence of the sighting (see previous question for details), use the reporting resources on our National Framework for Invasive Species EDRR Web site to find the appropriate agencies and organizations where you can report invasive species sightings. Some organizations provide online reporting forms that you can fill out or email addresses with which you can correspond, while others have set up toll free telephone numbers that members of the public can call to report sightings.
About Controlling Invasive Species
Where can I find information on how to control / manage/ eradicate an invasive species?
Answer: Visit our Control page for information and cataloged resources on this subject. In addition to providing a wealth of general information, the Global Invasive Species Database offers specific information about invasive species management. Search for a species, then select the "Management Info and Links" information tab toward the top of the species profile.
The Nature Conservancy's Invasive Species Management Summaries for plants and animals and pathogens provides extensive information about how to control a species. You must scroll far down the page to find the details, but if there is an Element Stewardship Abstract available for the species you are interested in, the information provided on mechanical, chemical, and biological control is usually extensive. The ISIN also catalogs online resources on invasive species Control and Restoration.
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About Invasive Species Lists
Where can I find a list of invasive species in my local area / town / county / state / country?
Answer: Our state resources pages provide specific information on invasive species in your state, or visit the What's in My Neighborhood page on the National Invasive Species Information Center's Web site . Still another (highly illustrated) option for lists of common invasive plants for the 49 continental United States can be found on the National Wildlife Federation's E-Nature Native Gardening and Invasive Plants Guide (an email address is required for access).
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About Invasive Species Maps
Where can I find a map of invasive species distributions?
Answer: For aquatic species, the Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database provides distribution maps. For plants, the USDA's PLANTS database has maps for both native and nonindigenous species. And there are many regional programs that have mapped invasive species, especially plants, including:
Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE)
CRISISmaps from the NBII California Information Node
Southwest Exotic Mapping Program
Tmap for tamarisk (National Institute of Invasive Species Science)
Exotic Plant Information Center Distribution Maps (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission)
Visit our Data and Maps section for more maps and mapping resources for invasive species.
About Gardening and Invasive Species
I don't want to plant invasive species in my garden but what alternative native species can I plant instead?
Answer: There are native plant societies and nurseries in your state that can help you choose native plant alternatives to brighten your spring and accommodate the birds, butterflies, and other creatures that call your garden home.
: Alternatives to Invasive or Potentially Invasive Exotic Species [PDF]. "A list of native plant alternatives to invasive or potentially invasive non-native plants in the landscape. Originally published as part of Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Woody Plants by NEWFS Nursery Manager William Cullina.
Hint: Please visit our Gardeners section to learn more on this subject.
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About Pets and Invasive Species
I cannot keep my pet any more, it is not a native species/I don't know whether it's native or not. What should I do with it?
Answer: The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) provides an excellent online list of organizations that can help you find a suitable home for your unwanted pet including groups like American Turtle Rescue (ATR) and the Rat Fan Club.
If your pet is an aquatic animal, you will find valuable and useful information about the options available to you and your pet on the Habitattitude Web site. Habitattitude encourages us to adopt a conservation mentality and protect our environment by not releasing unwanted fish and aquatic plants. The site is for aquarium hobbyists, backyard pond owners, water gardeners and others who are concerned about aquatic resource conservation.
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What organizations fund invasive species related activities in the United States?
Answer: Visit our invasive species economics section for some organizations funding invasive species activities.
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Where can I find legislative and legal information about invasive species?
Answer: Information about laws and regulations pertaining to invasive species in the United States can be found on the Web site of the National Invasive Species Information Center's Laws and Regulations page. Try searching the Environmental Law Institute's State Appendix - Halting the Invasion: State Tools for Invasive Species Management system online at http://www.eli.org/Program_Areas/Invasives/invasives_form.cfm for statutes and regulations related to one of five categories of invasive species for all states.
Where can I find regulatory information about invasive species?
Answer: A detailed description of the U.S. National Management Plan: Survey of Federal Roles and Responsibilities is hosted online by the National Invasive Species Information Center. The National Invasive Species Information Center also maintains a comprehensive list of Agencies and Organizations with an interest in the prevention, control, or eradication of invasive species.
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What is Early Detection and Rapid Response or EDRR?
Answer: Read all about the National Management Plan: An Action Plan for the Nation - Early Detection and Rapid Response hosted online by the National Invasive Species Information Center.
What is the Early Detection, Rapid Assessment and Response Information System?
[Question is being researched]
Please visit our EDRA/R page for more information.
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About the Invasive Species Information Node
How can I provide feedback on the ISIN Web site?
Answer: Whether it's a suggestion for adding content or a link, or something that needs to be fixed, feedback on the ISIN Web site is welcome and can be sent to us by filling out the NBII Contact Us form in the lower right corner of our About the Node page or send mail to:
Invasive Species Information Node
NBII National Program Office
USGS Biological Informatics Office
302 National Center, Reston, Virginia 20192
Phone: (703) 648-NBII (6244) | FAX: (703) 648-4224
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How can I contribute to this Web site?
Answer: We welcome any and all contributions to the ISIN Web site. We appreciate suggestions for additions to our content including links, pictures, references, headlines, and almost anything related to invasive species. Please contact us with your ideas.
How should I reference or cite the ISIN Web site?
Answer: When referencing content found on the ISIN Web site we recommend using the following citation:
[Web site content/component (e.g. Frequently Asked Questions About... the ISIN)]. National Biological Information Infrastructure, Invasive Species Information Node. Accessed [month, date, year] online at
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I am a member of the media. How do I contact the ISIN?
Answer: The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Invasive Species Information Node is coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey. The NBII Invasive Species Information Node (ISIN) is one of several NBII thematic nodes. To learn more about the NBII, go to http://www.nbii.gov. To learn more about the ISIN, go to http://invasivespecies.nbii.gov.
For additional information or questions about the NBII or the ISIN, please contact Ron Sepic, NBII Information Liaison, at email@example.com or phone 703-648-4218.
What volunteer opportunities exist within the ISIN?
Answer: We advertise volunteer opportunities online at http://www.serve.gov/. For volunteer opportunities that are available in the field of invasive species research in general, visit our Outreach, Citizen Science, and Action Groups section on the National Framework for Early Detection, Rapid Assessment, and Rapid Response to Invasive Species Web site.
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What employment opportunities exist within the ISIN?
Answer: We advertise employment opportunities online through the U.S. Geological Survey's Online Automated Recruitment System (OARS). For more information about jobs and volunteer opportunities with the USGS, please refer to the USGS Employment Web site.
Will the ISIN consider funding my invasive species research project?
Answer: Although invasive species are an increasing problem in the US and around the world, it is frequently commented that the amount of funding available for invasive species research is woefully insufficient. The ISIN does fund a limited number of projects, all related to information management and dealing with some aspect of early detection and rapid assessment/response. Because of the limited funding that is available, at this time we are not requesting new information management proposals.
What is the difference between the Invasive Species Information Node and the National Invasive Species Information Center?
Answer: The Invasive Species Information Node (ISIN) was created in 2002, involving many partners from federal, academic, and international sectors in an invasive species data consortium that will provide, when fully functional:
* summaries of and links to regional efforts of the other NBII nodes
* identification tools to help distinguish invasives from their look-alikes
* invasive species distribution maps with links to actual species occurrence data
* models predicting future spread of invasives
* the Global Invasive Species Database with printable profiles for hundreds of invasive species
* a mapping and reporting system for scientists and citizens to report the occurrence of invasive species
* a search interface providing information from several invasive species databases simultaneously
* a platform to promote data collection standards and database interoperability
The ISIN is also developing the National Framework for Early Detection, Rapid Assessment, and Rapid Response to Invasive Species.
The Web site at http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov was first created by the NBII in 2000 and is now hosted, has been redesigned, and is maintained by the USDA National Agricultural Library for the National Invasive Species Council. It is a "gateway to Federal and State invasive species programs."
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