Invasive Species Program

Invasive Pathogens

Invasive pathogens include diseases and disease-causing microorganisms (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) of plants and animals that can spread rapidly and have significant impacts across the U.S.  USGS research is addressing numerous diseases in both plants and animals (e.g. white-nose syndrome, avian malaria, Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death) and leading development efforts in advanced tools such as environmental DNA (eDNA) and vaccine technologies to assist in prevention and early detection and rapid response efforts nation-wide.  

Filter Total Items: 21
Date published: July 19, 2019
Status: Active

Using Robots in the River: Biosurveillance at USGS streamgages

For more than a decade, researchers around the world have shown that sampling a water body and analyzing for DNA (a method known as eDNA) is an effective method to detect an organism in the water. The challenge is that finding organisms that are not very abundant requires a lot of samples to locate this needle in a haystack.  Enter the "lab in a can", the water quality sampling and processing...

Date published: June 22, 2018
Status: Active

White-Nose Syndrome

Since the winter of 2006-07, millions of North American bats have died from white-nose syndrome (WNS). As of June 2019, bats with WNS have been confirmed in 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.

White-nose syndrome gets its name from the white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which infects the skin on the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats and was ...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: June 22, 2018
Status: Active

Avian Malaria

Avian malaria is a mosquito-borne disease of birds caused by a protozoan parasite (Plasmodium relictum). P. relictum reproduces in avian red blood cells. If the parasite load is sufficiently high, the bird loses red blood cells (anemia). Because red blood cells are critical for moving oxygen about the body, loss of these cells can lead to progressive weakness and, eventually...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: June 22, 2018
Status: Active

Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death

USGS has been involved in the response to Rapid Ohi’a Death since its detection in 2015, and is part of the multi-organizational Rapid Ohi’a Death Working Group which was formed to share information and coordinate research, resource management and outreach activities.

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: January 31, 2018
Status: Active

Pathways for Movement and Rate of Spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death on the Island of Hawai‘i

Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) is an emerging and rapidly spreading disease of ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha), a keystone native forest tree in the Hawaiian Islands. The disease is highly pathogenic in native ‘ōhi‘a and can lead to significant mortality once symptoms become evident. This emerging pathogen is a significant threat to native forests throughout the state because of its...

Date published: January 30, 2018
Status: Active

Environmental DNA (eDNA): a New Tool for Monitoring Status and Trends of Ecosystems and Taxa in Hawaii and Pacific Islands

Remote locations, rugged topography, extreme weather conditions, high numbers of threatened and endangered taxa, and widespread degradation of native ecosystems by invasive species makes routine monitoring to determine status and trends of ecosystems and native and invasive taxa difficult and expensive in the Hawaiian Islands. There is a need to supplement existing monitoring protocols with...

Date published: January 18, 2018
Status: Completed

Avian Pathogens and Vectors - Kahuku Unit of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

While the Hawaiian avian disease system has been well-studied in the forests of the older section of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (HAVO), and in many other locations throughout the state, nothing was known about avian disease in the new Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the adjacent Kau Forest Reserve.  The high elevation forests of Kahuku are the only habitat located on...

Date published: January 12, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive pathogens

Streamside salamanders such as this one are susceptible to invasive fungal pathogens of the genus Batrachochytrium.  Two types of emerging fungal agents, B. dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans have been identified as serious risks to our amphibian populations.

Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Bat Research in California

The primary goal of this bat research program is to develop projects that increase our understanding of basic ecology and natural history of western bat species, while simultaneously providing needed data to inform conservation measures and management decisions in the West. Dr. Brian Halstead, together with Gabriel Reyes, studies the habitat and resource selection, movement ecology, demography...

Contacts: Brian Halstead
Date published: May 16, 2017
Status: Completed

Population Demographic Models for the Conservation of Endangered Indiana Bats at Risk to White-Nose Syndrome

Bat Research

Bats are nocturnal, flying mammals that eat insects or fruits, pollinate flowers, distribute seeds, and are important to many ecosystems. Across North America there are 45 species of bats, many of which are threatened or endangered....

Date published: May 16, 2017
Status: Active

Infection by White-nose Syndrome is likely to Extirpate the Endangered Indiana Bat over major portions of its current range

White-nose syndrome (WNS), a novel fungal pathogen of cave-hibernating bat species in east and central North America, is causing the most precipitous decline in bat populations ever reported. This disease causes mortality in at least 6 species of bats, including the endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis), with mortality rates in some hibernacula averaging 95%. Since the onset of this disease...

Date published: May 10, 2017
Status: Active

Disease Ecology In the Pacific Basin: Wildlife and Public Health Concerns

Both wildlife and human health in Hawai‘i and other island ecosystems in the Pacific Basin face continued threats from introductions of diseases and vectors. Accidental introduction of mosquito-borne avian malaria and pox virus to Hawai‘i is an outstanding example of how biological invasions can have a profound effect on endemic wildlife. The geographic distribution, density, and community...