About the Program
Our Research Goals
The long-term goals of the USGS Invasive Species Program are driven by the need to provide the knowledge and tools to support effective science-based strategies for prevention, early detection, and prompt eradication of new invaders and for control of rapidly spreading species representing all major taxonomic groups of invaders in U.S. ecosystems. Specific long-term goals and the kinds of activities that will be conducted to meet them are outlined below:
1. PREVENTION: Conduct research and develop methods and technologies to prevent the introduction of invasive species.
- Development of methodologies and approaches for identification, quantification, monitoring, and managing pathways and associated vectors of transport.
- Development of methodologies for assessing the effectiveness of prevention methods and technologies (e.g., ballast water treatment).
- Research on interacting environmental processes, socioeconomic factors, and human behaviors that influence the contributions of various pathways and vectors to the introduction and spread of known or potentially invasive species.
2. EARLY DETECTION AND RAPID ASSESSMENT OF NEW INVADERS: Identify and report new invasions and assess risks to natural areas and waters.
- Methods for improved taxonomic identification, including molecular applications.
- Field survey and mapping methods for early detection.
- Design of reporting networks.
- Syntheses of available information on species distribution and ecology in native and invaded ranges.
- Geographic information system (GIS) technologies and methodologies for modeling and forecasting to help predict potential spread and probable risks of species new to the U.S. and outbreaks of established invasions in new ecological regions, ecosystems and watersheds.
- Development of assessments to support decisions on response strategies.
3. MONITORING AND FORECASTING OF ESTABLISHED INVADERS: Assess changes in populations and distributions of established invaders.
- Applications of cost effective methodologies for statistically reliable monitoring of the spread of invasive species in U.S. ecosystems (in cooperation with the Status and Trends Program),
- Integrated use of historical occurrence records, remote sensing and global positioning system (GPS) technologies, improved field sampling methods, and GIS to document spatial and temporal patterns of expanding invasions at site, landscape, and regional scales,
- Methods for systematic observations of invader populations to understand factors influencing the lag period - sometimes spanning many decades - between the initial establishment of a free living population and the appearance of invasions at landscape and regional scales,
- Methods for monitoring the effectiveness of measures to reduce or eliminate invasive species populations and to restore native communities.
4. EFFECTS OF INVASIVE SPECIES: Determine effects of invasive species and susceptibility of habitats to invasion.
- Research to provide basic understanding of the biology, ecology and population dynamics of invasive species, including studies to determine species' environmental requirements and tolerances.
- Research on how and why nonindigenous species become invasive including biotic and abiotic factors influencing the lag time between introduction and invasion.
- Research on interacting factors (e.g., fire, erosion and deposition processes, atmospheric and climatological stresses, chemical pollution, land use changes, and management practices) that facilitate invasion of a particular species or taxonomic group in U.S. ecosystems.
- Research on factors influencing species invasiveness to facilitate risk assessment and screening of potential new invaders.
- Research to determine the individual and cumulative effects of invasive species on ecosystem processes and native species (Note: invasive species must be the primary factor under study. Research on interacting factors in ecosystem processes should be included in the Ecosystems Program).
5. CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT: Provide approaches to contain, reduce, and eliminate populations of invasive species and restore habitats and native species.
- Research to develop and test approaches to control populations of invasive species. Emphasis is on genetic, molecular, biological, chemical, and ecological methods that reduce impacts of invasive species at landscape and regional scales.
- Research on adaptive management methods for invasive species that help restore ecosystem processes and populations of native species, especially those that are endemic or threatened.
6. INFORMATION MANAGEMENT: Provide and coordinate the collection, synthesis, and accessibility of invasive species information.
- Methods for compiling and synthesizing accurate and reliable data and information on invasive species, and the development of information products to meet user needs, for inclusion in a distributed and integrated Web-based information system. (Note: includes databases supported by USGS research centers and cooperation with the ISIN of the NBII, Geographic Information Office (GIO), and other USGS programs, e.g., in development of data standards and information management tools).
- Methods to facilitate user interaction with the information, methods, and tools developed under the other goals of the Invasive Species Program.