Early Results Indicate AIS Widespread and New AIS Detected

In 2011, the state was awarded a federal grant through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, allowing aquatic invasive species (AIS) efforts to expand throughout the Great Lakes Basins and collect data on AIS distribution statewide.  The statewide monitoring project also allows the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to evaluate the rate of AIS spread.

Scott Caven, Ashland County AIS Coordinator, monitoring for AIS (Photo courtesy of Scott Caven)

Wisconsin’s AIS monitoring project is the first statewide assessment of AIS and could provide framework for similar regional or state projects.  Each year from 2011 to 2015, about 200 randomly selected lakes with public access that range from 10 to 5,000 acres are monitored for AIS.  After this 5-year project, over 50% of Wisconsin’s 1,600 lakes with public boat landings will be monitored.

On each lake, snorkeling, plankton tow nets, aquatic plant rakes, macroinvertebrate dip-nets, and shoreline meander surveys are used to search for invasive plants, planktonic organisms, mussels, and snails.  Monitoring teams searched 182 lakes in 2011 and 184 lakes in 2012.  Of these public access lakes that were sampled, 74% in 2011 and 77% in 2012 had at least one AIS.  The most common AIS found in both years were mystery snails.  Eurasian water-milfoil and curly leaf pondweed were observed in about 30% of the lakes surveyed in 2011 and 2012.  Faucet snails, spiny water fleas, and zebra mussels were found much less frequently. 

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) found during the statewide aquatic invasive species monitoring project.  New records are AIS that were observed for the first time during the survey.  Total records are new records plus known records of AIS observed during the survey.  The current statewide total includes all known records of AIS.
 
 
 
Species
2011
2012
 
 
Current Statewide Totals
New Records
Total Records
New Records
Total Records
Banded mystery snails
28
48
35
71
329
Chinese mystery snails
52
79
25
81
501
Curly-leaf pondweed
16
57
12
59
508
Eurasian water-milfoil
3
60
8
61
710
Faucet snails
0
0
1
1
7
Spiny water flea
0
0
0
1
6
Zebra mussels
2
16
4
15
164

A major finding from 2012 included a faucet snail discovery in Paddock Lake (Kenosha County).  An additional faucet snail population was recently confirmed in Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior near the Town of Washburn (Bayfield County).  Prior to 2012, faucet snail populations were only known in the Mississippi River and the Wolf River System from Shawano Lake south.

Looking at preliminary data, no conclusions can be made regarding rate of spread at this time.  Ultimately, the survey data should tell us whether the rate of AIS spread is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same.  To find out more about the distribution of AIS in Wisconsin, click here.

In addition to collecting data on the distribution and spread of AIS in the state, the survey also serves as an early detection monitoring tool, allowing for rapid response actions to new discoveries.  For example, new populations of Eurasian water-milfoil and zebra mussels were discovered by Matt Hager from the DNR during the statewide monitoring project in North Lake of the Spread Eagle Chain (Florence County).  Matt hand pulled all visible Eurasian water-milfoil and also notified University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) zebra mussel researchers who then visited the lakes as part of a regional zebra mussel research project.  In response to the new finding, the Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes Association successfully applied for a DNR Early Response Grant with assistance of the environmental consulting firm, White Water Associates, Inc. The application requested funds to monitor, map and hand pull milfoil, explore the purchase of a boat wash, and integrate the milfoil and UWSP zebra mussel research into the North Lake Adaptive Management Plan. 

Partners in the statewide AIS monitoring project include Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, County, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, University of Wisconsin-Superior, University of Wisconsin Extension, Northland College, Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Citizen Lake Monitoring Network, and Volunteer staff.  This broad partnership makes the Wisconsin Aquatic Invasive Species Program a model for other states and regions.

Entry written by Maureen Ferry
This entry was posted in Contain and Control Invasive Species, Invasive Species, Monitoring and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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