Predicting the spread of invasive species to improve prevention
MAISRC researchers have completed a predictive risk model for zebra mussels and starry stonewort that estimates the probability of a lake becoming infested by 2025. This data, which can be used to inform decision-making and prioritize prevention activities, is now available for download on our website.
The model evaluated all 25,000 bodies of water in Minnesota that are recognized by the Minnesota DNR and took into account three factors for each: likelihood of AIS introduction due to water connectivity, likelihood of AIS introduction due to boater movement, and environmental suitability. The simulation was run 10,000 times to produce a percentage probability of whether a lake will become infested with either invasive species. For example, a score of 0.3245 means that when the model was run 10,000 times, the lake became infested 3,245 times by 2025 – a 32.45% chance.
Unfortunately, the models are being tested right now by new reports of invasive species findings – but they are performing well. The most recent confirmation of starry stonewort was in Wolf Lake (Beltrami Co), which ranked 32 highest risk out of 24,055 waterbodies in Minnesota.
The data in these spreadsheets are based on the status quo; however, they were built in a way that allows for the integration of various intervention scenarios. As part of this project, researchers did evaluate hypothetical scenarios to see how many future infestations could be averted. To learn more about that, attend Nick Phelps’ session at the AIS Research and Management Showcase on Sept. 12.
“The ability to rank waterbodies based on actual risk, instead of perceived risk, is a game-changer,” said Nick Phelps, project leader. “Our next move is to use this data to create a real-time, interactive database, which will help managers make the most informed decisions possible.”