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The NAS Alert System: A look at the first eight years

March 28, 2013

The U.S. Geological Survey's Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) database program (http://nas.er.usgs.gov) tracks the distribution of introduced aquatic organisms across the United States. Awareness of, and timely response to, novel species introductions by those involved in nonindigenous aquatic species management and research requires a framework for rapid dissemination of occurrence data as it is incorporated into the NAS database. In May 2004, the NAS program developed an alert system to notify registered users of new introductions as part of a national early detection/rapid response system. This article summarizes information on system users and dispatched alerts from the system's inception through the end of 2011. The NAS alert system has registered over 1,700 users, with approximately 800 current subscribers. A total of 1,189 alerts had been transmitted through 2011. More alerts were sent for Florida (134 alerts) than for any other state. Fishes comprise the largest taxonomic group of alerts (440), with mollusks, plants, and crustaceans each containing over 100 alerts. Most alerts were for organisms that were intentionally released (414 alerts), with shipping, escape from captivity, and hitchhiking also representing major vectors. To explore the archive of sent alerts and to register, the search and signup page for the alert system can be found online at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/AlertSystem/default.aspx.