Invasive Species

ARMI conducts research on the ecology of invasives, their impacts on native species, and how invasive species can be reduced or eradicated. Habitat used by amphibians has been exposed to many types of invasives through deliberate or accidental introductions. For example, sport fish deliberately introduced to ponds and streams in the western US that were formerly fishless, have been associated with the loss of amphibians in those water bodies. In another example, the American bullfrog of the Eastern US was introduced into the Western US through a combination of introductions into ponds for bait, and escapes from frog farms. The American bullfrog has been a relentless predator of several species already in conservation trouble in the Western US.

What types of problems do invasive species cause?
Some species harm native species directly by preying on them or competing with them for resources, and some modify or destroy the habitat used by native species.

Where do invasive species come from?
Some come from deliberate introductions such as biological control, stocking for hunting, fishing, or spreading bait species. Some are accidental escapes from pet stores, farming/aquaculture facilities, and ornamental gardens. Some animals are released by pet owners or teaching labs. Some species hitchhike with materials otherwise deliberately moved such as garden plants, ballast water, boats and nets.

Feral hogs.
Feral hogs trapped at St Marks NWR, FL. Photo by: W. Barichovich.

Terms Related to Invasive Species

Invasive species: Plant, animal or pathogen that is not native to an area, and "whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health." [US Executive Order 13112. 1999]

Injurious Wildlife (defined by Lacey Act) - Mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, mollusks and their offspring or gametes that are injurious to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife or wildlife resources of the United States. Plants and organisms other than those listed above cannot be listed as injurious wildlife.

Nonindigenous species: Any species or other viable biological material that enters an ecosystem beyond its historic range, including any such organism transferred from one country into another. (Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990)

Aquatic nuisance species: A nonindigenous species that threatens the diversity or abundance of native species or the ecological stability of infested waters, or commercial, agricultural, aquacultural or recreational activities dependent on such waters. (Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990)


Invasive Species - ARMI Papers & Reports

Papers & Reports Native amphibian toxin reduces invasive crayfish feeding with potential benefits to stream biodiversity
Authors: Gary Bucciarelli; Sierra J. Smith; Justin J. Choe; Phoebe D. Shin; Robert N Fisher; Lee B Kats
Date: 2023-09-13 | Outlet: BMC Ecology and Evolution 23, 51
Biodiversity is generally reduced when non-native species invade an ecosystem. Invasive crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, populate California freshwater streams, and in the Santa Monica Mountains (Los Angeles, USA), their introduction has led to trophic cascades due to omnivorous feeding behavior and a rapid rate of population growth. The native California newt, Taricha torosa, possesses a neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin (TTX), that affects freshwater animal behavior. Given P. clarkii has a limited evolutionary history with TTX, we hypothesized that TTX may affect crayfish feeding behaviors. To determine if TTX affects P. clarkii behavior, we measured cumulative movement and various feeding behaviors of P. clarkii exposed to (i) waterborne, ecologically realistic concentrations of TTX (~?3.0?×?10??8 moles/L), (ii) an anuran chemical cue to account for intraguild cues, or (iii) a T. torosa chemical cue with quantitated TTX in it (~?6.2?×?10??8 moles/L).

We found that the presence of TTX in any form significantly reduced crayfish movement and decreased the amount of food consumed over time. Crayfish responses to the anuran treatment did not significantly differ from controls.

Our laboratory results show that naturally occurring neurotoxin from native California newts limits invasive crayfish foraging and feeding rates, which may play a role in preserving local stream ecosystems by limiting invasive crayfish behaviors that are detrimental to biodiversity.
Papers & Reports BioLake: A first assessment of lake temperature-derived bioclimatic predictors for aquatic invasive species
Authors: Ryan C Burner; Wesley M. Daniel; Peder S. Engelstad; Christopher J. Churchill; Richard E Erickson
Date: 2023-07-10 | Outlet: Ecosphere 14(7):e4616
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) present major ecological and economic challenges globally, endangering ecosystems and human livelihoods. Managers and policy makers thus need tools to predict invasion risk and prioritize species and areas of concern, and they often use native range climate matching to determine whether a species could persist in a new location. However, climate matching for AIS often relies on air temperature rather than water temperature due to a lack of global water temperature data layers, and predictive power of models is seldom evaluated. We developed 12 global lake (water) temperature-derived “BioLake” bioclimatic layers for distribution modeling of aquatic species and compared “climatch” climate matching predictions (from climatchR package) from BioLake with those based on BioClim temperature layers and with a null model. We did this for 73 established AIS in the United States, training the models on their ranges outside of the United States and Canada. Models using either set of climate layers outperformed the null expectation by a similar (but modest) amount on average, but some species were occasionally found in locations with low climatch scores. Mean US climatch scores were higher for most species when using air temperature. Including additional climate layers in models reduced mean climatch scores, indicating that commonly used climatch score thresholds are not absolute but can be context specific and may require calibration based upon climate data used. Although finer resolution global lake temperature data would likely improve predictions, our BioLake layers provide a starting point for aquatic species distribution modeling. Climate matching was most effective for some species that originated at low latitudes or had small ranges. Climatch scores remain useful but limited for predicting AIS risk, perhaps because current ranges seldom fully reflect climatic tolerances (fundamental niches). Managers could consider climate matching as one of a suite of tools that can be used in AIS prioritization.
Papers & Reports Successful eradication of invasive American bullfrogs leads to co-extirpation of emerging pathogens
Authors: Blake R Hossack; D Hall; C L Crawford; Caren S Goldberg; Erin Muths; Brent H Sigafus; Thierry C Chambert
Date: 2023 | Outlet: Conservation Letters
Interventions of host-pathogen dynamics provide strong tests of relationships, yet they are still rarely applied across multiple populations. After American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) invaded a wildlife refuge where federally threatened Chiricahua Leopard Frogs (R. chiricahuensis) were reintroduced 12 years prior, managers launched a landscape-scale eradication effort to help ensure continued recovery of the native species. We used a before-after-control-impact (BACI) design and environmental DNA sampling of 19 eradication sites and 18 control sites between fall 2016 and winter 2020–2021 to measure community-level responses to bullfrog eradication, including for 2 pathogens. Dynamic occupancy models revealed successful eradication from 94% of treatment sites. Native amphibians did not respond to bullfrog eradication, but the pathogens amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and ranaviruses were co-extirpated with bullfrogs. Our spatially replicated experimental approach provides strong evidence that management of invasive species can simultaneously reduce predation and disease risk for imperiled species.
View All Papers & Reports on Invasive Species

View All Data Releases on Invasive Species
* USGS neither sponsors nor endorses non-USGS web sites; per requirement "3.4.1 Prohibition of Commercial Endorsement."
* PDF documents require Adobe Reader or Google Chrome Browser for viewing.