Decision-making tool for optimal management of AIS

This project will develop a decision-making tool to help AIS managers, counties, and other agencies prioritize their resources for optimal prevention and intervention of AIS, specifically zebra mussels and starry stonewort. The tool will answer two major questions:

  1. Can it get here? To assess this risk, researchers will take into account the geographic proximity to an infested lake, boater movement in Minnesota, and water connectivity.
  2. Can it survive here? This will be answered using species-specific ecological niche models. These suitability models take into account lake and landscape variables such as temperature, precipitation, pH, conductivity, and chlorophyll.

A static version of this model has already been created by a previous MAISRC project. This new model will take that, integrate new data, and build it so it can incorporate up-to-the-minute changes. Once input from counties and other stakeholders is taken into account and the model is finalized, it will be put online in a user-friendly format for AIS managers and agencies to use.

Once the decision optimization model is created, reports will be created and distributed to counties to help them prioritize their resource allocations in order to have the biggest impact on reducing the risk of spread of AIS.

Preventing the spread of AIS through human-associated pathways is a priority for many state and local agencies. A science-based tool to inform planning and decision-making is urgently needed.


The first step of developing AIS risk estimates for each lake in Minnesota is completed, with the creation of a hydromorphological network model. The model suggests that while water connectivity is important, other factors are also clearly influencing the spread of AIS. Researchers have now begun to evaluate optimal management scenarios based on the data available for lake connectivity and suitability.

Project manager: Nick Phelps (Read the Managing Director Conflict of Interest in MAISRC Proposal Funding policy here)

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Project start date: 2017

Estimated project end date: 2019

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