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Invasive Species Program

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More than 6,500 nonindigenous species are now established in the United States, posing risks to native plants, animals, microorganisms, valued ecosystems, and human and wildlife health. In fact, the current annual environmental, economic, and health-related costs of invasive species exceed those of all other natural disasters combined.

Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Database

Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Database

The NAS database is a central repository for spatially referenced biogeographic accounts of introduced aquatic species. The program provides scientific reports, online/realtime queries, spatial data sets, distribution maps, and general in

Find Information

Turning to eDNA to Detect Invasive Species

Turning to eDNA to Detect Invasive Species

Adam Sepulveda, research zoologist at the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, explains how we are using environmental DNA to detect invasive species.

Watch the video

Looking for a Particular Species?

USGS scientists study hundreds of invasive species. Here are a few species highlights:

Asian Carp

Burmese Python & Tegus

Brown Treesnake

Cheatgrass, Buffelgrass, Tamarisk

Phragmites

Sea Lamprey

Pacific Island Mammals, Insects, Plants

Investigate Species

News

Image shows a coiled python on a wooden table
September 22, 2016

Burmese pythons have been found on Key Largo.

Photo of a USGS scientist measuring of flow of water around the barge in Illinois.
June 14, 2016

When a moving barge encounters small fish in the Illinois Waterway there is a possibility that the fish will become trapped in the gap between barges, according to a new study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Close up photo of juvenile brown treesnake on branch.
March 3, 2016

Two recent reports of two brown treesnakes on Saipan is prompting federal and state officials to urge citizens of Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific Islands to report any sightings of these invasive snakes to authorities. Snakes can be reported by calling (671) 777-HISS or (670) 28-SNAKE.

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Logging Lake, Glacier National Park.
Date Published: January 4, 2018

After 14,000 years of dominance, Glacier National Park’s (GNP) greatest native aquatic predator is at high risk of extirpation (local extinction) in several lakes on the western slopes of the Continental Divide. The decline of threatened bull trout in GNP is directly attributed to the invasion and establishment of nonnative lake trout, which consistently displace bull trout in systems where...

Black and white Tegu lizard in the Florida Everglades grass.
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

Find out more about invasive species in the Everglades such as the burmese python and black and white tegus.

Head-on view of a male mouflon staring directly back at the camera
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

Find out more about invasive species in the Pacific islands such as brown treesnake, invasive mammals (mouflon, feral pigs, rats, and mongoose), plants, ants, and yellowjacket wasps.

Invasive Tamarisk or saltcedar as it is known, growing on the side of a river.
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

Find out more about invasive species in the western U.S. such as cheatgrass, tamarisk, and buffelgrass.

Brown treesnake
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

USGS research focuses on developing and enhancing capabilities to forecast and predict invasive species establishment and spread. Early detection helps resource managers identify and report new invasive species, especially for cryptic species and those in very low abundance, to better assess risks to natural areas. 

Image: Sea Lamprey Parasitic
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

Tracking the establishment and spread of existing and new invasive species is critical to effectively manage invasive species.

Lake Trout with attached sea lamprey
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

Find out more about invasive species in the midwest such as asian carp, sea lamprey, and phragmites.

Phragmites, an invasive grass
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

The USGS develops strategies and techniques to understand and facilitate restoration of native species and habitats affected by invasive species.  This is critical because control without restoration can leave the ecosystem vulnerable to subsequent reinvasion by the same or additional invasive species.   

Image: American Bullfrog
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

Once invasive species are established, how should they be managed?

Image: Invasive Phragmites australis
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

The USGS is developing innovative Phragmites control measures to keep this rapidly spreading invasive plant from further expanding its range into new wetland habitats and to aid in the development of successful restoration strategies. Scientists are conducting studies and field tests to determine if fungi that live within the Phragmites are enabling the plant to take over habitat used by...

Boat trolling for zebra mussels
Date Published: June 10, 2017
Status: Active

Invasive zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and D. rostriformis bugensis, respectively) are causing significant ecological and economic impacts and the scope of these impacts has increased as they continue to spread across North America. The USGS conducts science to inform management actions for controlling and mitigating the impacts of invasive mussels.  Studies...

Contacts: Jon Hortness
Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus)
Date Published: March 22, 2017

22-23 March 2017 - Ten teams of fishery biologists sampled 28 sites amid unexpected wildfires in the Big Cypress National Preserve over the two day period. On the second day a reporter from the Miami Herald accompanied a ground crew team.

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Field Guide to the Nonindigenous Marine Fishes of Florida publication cover
January 30, 2017

Field Guide to the Nonindigenous Marine Fishes of Florida

The purpose of this field guide is to provide information on nonindigenous
(i.e., non-native) fishes that have been observed in Florida’s marine waters.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database (NAS)

The NAS provides spatially referenced biogeographic accounts of aquatic species introduced into the United States. The NAS allows for real-time queries, has regional contact information, species accounts and general information. Sign up for species-specific email alerts. Special maps available for zebra and quagga mussels, Asian carp and lionfish.

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USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

Multiple search functions: State, major drainage area (HUC2), drainage area (HUC6), drainage area (HUC8), Zebra Mussel Collections, and fact sheets.

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Asian carp removal in Missouri.
2018 (approx.)

In 2018, USGS and partners completed an incredible feat against a harmful aquatic invasive species when over 240,000 pounds of invasive Silver Carp and Bighead Carp were removed from Creve Coeur Lake in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

2017 (approx.)

Out with the old, in with the new! A state-of-the-art aquatic science laboratory is being built on the shores of Lake Huron at the USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station (HBBS), one of seven field stations of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center, operated in partnership with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. To make way for the new laboratory, four old buildings on the HBBS property needed to be removed. Three buildings - a former limnology laboratory, workshop, and metal storage building - were demolished, whereas one building - a nearly 100 year old boathouse - was relocated on the HBBS property for safe-keeping during construction. This short video features time lapse photography of the building demolition and boathouse relocation, and is the second video in a multi-part series documenting HBBS renovations (watch the first video in the series featuring construction of a 1-million gallon water tank, pump house, and pipeline at: https://youtu.be/5hjJ9IoBLJA). Ground breaking for the new lab took place in October 2017, and construction is expected to complete during fall of 2018. Future construction milestones will also be chronicled using time lapse photography, so look for more videos in the future!

October 10, 2016

The USGS field tested the use of a portable hand-held kit for the detection of the environmental DNA (eDNA) of Asian carps (bighead carp and silver carp) in water samples as part of on-going invasive species detection research. The goals of the USGS-led research are to develop a method and kit that can be used on-site to detect Asian carp eDNA within one hour. Developing portable, rapid and reliable methods and kits such as the one evaluated here will improve the detection of invasive species and pathogens and will improve the ability of resource managers to make timely decisions to prevent, contain, and control invasive species and pathogens. Future efforts will continue the evaluation of the method and kit under field conditions, including fish shipments that might contain invasive carps, and developing procedures and information needed to allow conservation officers and law enforcement agencies to use the kit to prevent illegal transport of Asian carps and other species. Funding for this research was provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
 

2016 (approx.)

Watch as the USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station water tank and pump house are constructed from the ground up! This short video features time lapse photography of the 1-million gallon water tank and pump house constructed to supply water to a state-of-the-art aquatic science laboratory. Laboratory construction will occur over the next several years and will also be chronicled with time lapse photography. 
 

June 15, 2016

This is an introductory video to an adaptive management approach for the invasive plant Phragmites australis in the Great Lakes basin. An adaptive management framework is an iterative process of robust decision making aimed at reducing uncertainty over time, for a variety of stakeholders with differing backgrounds and interests, via system monitoring.

Close up photo of synthetic surrogate eggs in water
January 4, 2016

Synthetic surrogate water-hardened Silver Carp Eggs settled on top of a sediment bed. Laboratory experiments in flowing water demonstrate egg suspension at lower velocities than previously thought. The drift of synthetic eggs at a range of flows was evaluated to provide insight into both suspension of water-hardened Silver Carp eggs and the potential interaction of eggs with the bottom of a river. 

October 20, 2015

This is a timelapse video of a dye tracer study at Brandon Road Lock, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) facility in Joliet, IL, on the Des Plaines River on October 20, 2015. This video was collected using a digital camera mounted on the upstream gates of the lock looking downstream with a 5-second interval between images and played back at 10 frames per second (fps). This data collection is supporting efforts to combat the spread of invasive Asian carp into the Great Lakes Basin. Brandon Road Lock and Dam has been tentatively selected by the USACE as a location to apply controls to stop the upstream movement of these fish. To develop these controls, resource managers need to understand how the water moves through the system and the fate and transport of dissolved constituents within and downstream of the lock chamber (measured using the surrogate dye tracer). The video shows the initially empty lock chamber that is filled while dye was injected into the upstream water intakes and distributed throughout the lock chamber by way of the fill-water distribution system. The dyed water fills the lock and a survey crew measures vertical profiles of the dye concentration at 15 stations in the lock chamber using a submersible fluorometer and rope and pulley system. The lock is emptied, surveyed again at the same 15 stations, and then flushed for 17 minutes with the downstream gates open and the upstream valves 25 percent open. Significant turbulence and circulation can be seen during the flushing procedure, but floating debris and surface scum remain trapped in the upstream portion of the lock. Following the flushing procedure, the downstream gates are closed and the lock chamber is surveyed one final time to map the post-flushing dye distribution. The video ends as the lock is filled in preparation for reopening the lock to commercial traffic.
 

Capturing juvenile bull trout by electroshocking Logging Creek and then transporting them to another lake upstream.
2014 (approx.)

Capturing juvenile bull trout by electroshocking Logging Creek and then transporting them in a backpack up the trail to Grace Lake.

Sea Lamprey Hammond Bay Biological Station
April 11, 2014

Sea Lamprey at the Hammond Bay Biological Statioin in Millersburg, MI

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Photo of a USGS scientist measuring of flow of water around the barge in Illinois.
June 14, 2016

When a moving barge encounters small fish in the Illinois Waterway there is a possibility that the fish will become trapped in the gap between barges, according to a new study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Close up photo of juvenile brown treesnake on branch.
March 3, 2016

Two recent reports of two brown treesnakes on Saipan is prompting federal and state officials to urge citizens of Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific Islands to report any sightings of these invasive snakes to authorities. Snakes can be reported by calling (671) 777-HISS or (670) 28-SNAKE.

A juvenile Broad-banded Watersnake that tested positive for snake fungal disease (SFD) exhibiting ulceration of the skin.
March 1, 2016

Snake fungal disease, or SFD, a disease causing high mortality rates in some species of snakes, has been found in Louisiana for the first time, according to a new study by U.S. Geological Survey scientists. SFD now has been confirmed in at least 16 states in the Eastern and Midwestern United States.

USGS science for a changing world logo
February 22, 2016

The areas of the United States that are most at risk of a potentially invasive salamander fungus are the Pacific coast, the southern Appalachian Mountains and the mid-Atlantic regions, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey report.

USGS science for a changing world logo
January 28, 2016

Boaters, swimmers or other members of the public who see Lionfish, Asian carp, Zebra mussels or any other invasive or non-native plant or animal species have two options to report sightings.

Image: Sea Lamprey Parasitic
January 4, 2016

Ann Arbor, MI – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered a sea lamprey mating pheromone, 3kPZS, as the first ever vertebrate pheromone biopesticide in late December, 2015. Like an alluring perfume, the mating pheromone is a scent released by male sea lampreys to lure females onto nesting sites.

USGS science for a changing world logo
December 10, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Northern spotted owl populations are declining in all parts of their range in the Pacific Northwest, according to research published in The Condor. Based on data from 11 study areas across Washington, Oregon and northern California, a rangewide decline of nearly 4 percent per year was estimated from 1985 to 2013.

USGS science for a changing world logo
October 29, 2015

The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

Image: Juvenile Silver Carp
September 23, 2015

Silver carp, a species of invasive Asian carp, demonstrated a strong aversion to certain noises during a recent study on the potential use of sound for silver carp control.

Image: Snakehead Fish
September 1, 2015

Scientists use the word “anthropogenic” in referring to environmental change caused or influenced by people, either directly or indirectly.

Image: Giant African Land Snail
July 9, 2015

The invasive giant African land snail is expanding its range in Miami, and with it, the range of the parasitic rat lungworm, according to new U.S. Geological Survey led research.

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