Will property values cool as AIS heat up?

This project will evaluate the economic impacts of Eurasian watermilfoil on property values as well as quantify the role of water temperature and other lake characteristics in determining Eurasian watermilfoil abundance. Specific activities include:

  1. Predicting lake-level Eurasian watermilfoil abundance under current and future climates
  2. Linking Eurasian watermilfoil abundance to economic metrics
  3. Communicating results and supporting decision-making using an online decision support tool

We currently have a limited understanding of how the economic impacts of AIS are linked to abundance, or how they are likely to change with climate change. To be proactive in AIS management, we need to understand how changing environmental conditions might change the distribution, abundance, and impacts of nuisance species. Quantifying changes in the ecological and economic impacts of Eurasian watermilfoil under varying climate scenarios will provide much-needed information for evaluating the costs and benefits of a range of detailed management options regarding current and future Eurasian watermilfoil abundance, economic impacts, and associated treatment costs. Such predictions can be used to identify priority lakes for prevention (e.g., vulnerable, uninvaded lakes) and control (e.g., vulnerable, low-abundance lakes) efforts. Additionally, predictions can be summarized at multiple scales, providing quantitative scenarios of current and future economic impacts and expected treatment costs for decision-making at lake, county, and state levels.

Pilot work in Minnesota has shown that starry stonewort populations and growth patterns of can vary between years and between lakes in different locations. These patterns suggest that how starry stonewort invades a lake could be influenced by climatological factors such as ice-out date, growing season length, and average water temperature. If this is the case, then developing effective management strategies for starry stonewort requires a deeper and more specific understanding of how climate change will influence the invasion dynamics of the species. 

The project includes:

  • An empirical study of starry stonewort invasion dynamics in nine lakes across latitudinal gradients in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana.
  • Interviews with AIS managers and decision-makers in Wiscnsin, Minnesota and Indiana to examine invasive species management perceptions and preferences as they relate to starry stonewort.
  • Modeling starry stonewort invasion patterns under a range of climate and management scenarios. 

This project will provide practical information on the ecology of starry stonewort, a summary of current stakeholder preferences around starry stonewort management, as well as an evaluation of optimal management strategies.

The study is one component of a larger research project that is funded by the Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative administered by the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University

Project manager: Gretchen Hansen

Funded by: State of Minnesota

Project start date: 2019

Estimated project end date: 2021

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