June 2015 Letter from the Director
Dear Friends –
I am often asked how the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center determines what issues to research. There are many issues yet to be addressed in this arena, and many species to consider – including the emerging threats of new AIS that are at our doorstep. The sheer number of options can sometimes feel daunting. Of course, we wish we could cover everything, but we can’t. We have to prioritize the issues of top concern, the research with the highest likelihood for developing prevention and control options, and the projects that most effectively use public research dollars.
That’s why last fall I initiated MAISRC’s first-ever comprehensive Research Needs Assessment, preliminary results of which I’m excited to share with you today. These new projects have no impact on our current research projects, which were planned as part of MAISRC’s establishment.
When it came to determining new projects, emotions and possibility were both running high. In order to be as strategic as possible, a diverse assessment team with a breadth of scientific expertise was established. This team worked to take into consideration the gamut of scientific and social issues that surround AIS in Minnesota and took into account input from AIS managers around the state, other scientists, and the public.
What resulted were seventeen research priorities that will guide new investments in the coming year. These topics range from determining the likelihood of spread of zebra mussels by various mechanisms (boat lifts, docks, residual boat waters, etc.) to developing Asian carp deterrents for use in small waterways. Some topics, including research on Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed control options, have already been targeted for implementation.
Six more projects – ranging from open-water pesticide treatment analysis for zebra mussel infestations, metagenomic approaches to biological control strategies of zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, and developing carp-specific toxins – will be launched by August, and an open call for research proposals will be announced soon after that with an aim to begin new work in 2016.
Of course, MAISRC might not be able to address all seventeen of the priorities included on the list. However, we will work across as many fronts as possible to implement the quality, scientific research that all Minnesotans expect from the University. In order to stay on top of changing AIS conditions, the priorities list will be revisited and updated every one to two years and new projects will be considered. As needs and opportunities emerge, new funds will be sought to advance additional research that align with MAISRC’s mission.
It is exciting to be on the cusp of this significant step forward in our work – and I thank you for the ideas and support you have provided to get us here.
I look forward to sharing details of the new research efforts as they are launched!
Dr. Susan Galatowitsch
Director, Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center