July 2014 Letter from the Director
Two years ago, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) was launched at the “U.”
Minnesotans treasure the state’s lakes and other freshwater systems and recognize the increased threat posed by some aquatic species arriving from far parts of the world. Several aquatic invaders including common carp, water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed and purple loosestrife have already transformed many Minnesota lakes and wetlands. Native species have been displaced, fisheries declined, water quality diminished.
Aquatic invasive species seem unstoppable – the vast numbers defy control by conventional methods. But there is still hope. Our best shot is to develop specific control approaches that target some aspect of a particular invader’s biology—a key vulnerability. This worked for purple loosestrife—over a decade ago, U scientists developed an effective bio-control approach using host-specific insect pests. We think there are more of these kinds of solutions yet to be discovered.
MAISRC was established to expand the state’s capacity to search for solutions to invaders that are already well-established, those that are currently spreading, and others that are “at our door step”. Recent invaders, like zebra mussels, and the growing list of species poised to enter Minnesota’s waters creates an urgency to accelerate research on AIS. During the past two years, MAISRC received funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (the “lottery funds”), Clean Water Fund, the legislature, businesses, lake shore associations, and individual citizens to get things rolling. A major expansion of research has required hiring new scientists, renovating and retooling labs, and developing specific research plans of actions. We’re in the thick of this “building” phase of the Center but also moving ahead with key research projects. We’ll be sharing news of MAISRC research and other Center activities in this newsletter, which will come to you bimonthly.
Ramping up research while simultaneously developing the Center has been exciting, although very challenging. In order to move forward on both fronts, MAISRC’s founding director, Dr. Peter Sorensen, is now focused on leading carp research projects, which are the most extensive efforts within the Center. Since May, I’ve been serving as the Center Director. This leadership transition has been very smooth, thanks in large part to Associate Director Becca Nash, who has guided many aspects of MAISRC since its inception.
Your continued interest and support in solving Minnesota’s aquatic invasive species challenges is essential for the success of MAISRC and related statewide initiatives. If, in thirty years, our lakes and rivers have not been over-run with invasive species, it will be because of concerted action by citizens, university researchers, and natural resource organizations.
I look forward to working with many of you in the coming years.
Dr. Susan Galatowitsch
Director, Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center