Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes

Chapter 13: Controlling the Spread of Invasive Species while Sampling

Stewart Jacks, Steve Sharon, Ronald E. Kinnunen, David K. Britton, Doug Jensen, and Scott S. Smith


Invasive species have had a substantial impact on natural resource management. The economic cost of invasive species to people in the United States is an estimated US$137 billion annually (Pimental et al. 2000). The environmental cost is much greater and usually incalculable (Pimental et al. 2005). Nearly half of the plant and animal species federally listed in the United States’ Endangered Species Act are threatened or endangered primarily as a consequence of invasive species that directly prey on native species or out-compete them for limited resources (Wilcove et al. 1998; Pimental et al. 2005). The result is reduced population numbers and, sometimes, local extinction of native plants and animals (Pimental et al. 2005). Such environmental damage is often irreparable. As natural resource managers, it is our responsibility to manage and conserve valuable natural resources. However, if our focus is limited to specific projects and tasks at hand, we may overlook the broader ramifications of our actions and unintentionally contribute to the invasive species problem.

This chapter focuses on measures that should be taken to prevent, minimize, or control the spread of invasive species in the routine work we do as natural resource professionals. Inadvertently transporting potentially harmful organisms undermines our purpose as natural resource professionals. It is imperative that we understand the pathways that we create and strive to eliminate (when possible) or minimize the potential damage that may result from our actions. A combination of technologies, education, codes of conduct, and government oversight, as recommended by the Ecological Society of America, can prevent invasive species introductions from pathways that already exist (Lodge et al. 2006). In the long run, a purposeful prevention strategy for stopping unintentional species introductions will promote responsible natural resource management and will help us to achieve agency goals.