Public values of aquatic invasive species management

The overall goal of this project is to quantify and analyze the ecological and economic value of AIS damages and AIS management as they relate to ecosystem services such as fishing, swimming, biodiversity, and navigability. Researchers will employ a multi-pronged approach, including:

  • Estimating public benefits of AIS management
  • Analyzing costs of carp management and effectiveness of carp management as a strategy for water clarity restoration
  • Developing a broad AIS analysis framework, which we will use to estimate efficient carp management

Specific outcomes of the study include a comprehensive AIS valuation data compilation for use by other researchers, and an eco-economic programming model to predict the economic and ecological repercussions of using AIS prevention and control initiatives.

This project is important because even if the direct costs of AIS management are known, a lack of information about the potential benefits of AIS management makes informed decision-making difficult. With an accurate assessment of the costs and benefits of AIS management strategies, as well as information on public perception, resource managers will be better prepared to efficiently and effectively invest management resources.


As of January 2019, a literature review to identify key survey topics was complete, along with samples of survey questions in order to identify survey topics and develop the questionnaire for Minnesota residents. Researchers have also been working with watershed districts to collect information about cost estimates and water quality before and after AIS management efforts.

Survey collection kicked off in summer 2019. One survey was mailed to 2,000 residents across Minnesota; another was administered in-person at six lakes across the state.

A questionnaire was for watershed districts and other carp management agencies was also developed and administered in order to collect information about cost estimates (for each management action) and water quality (clarity and Phosphorus) before and after AIS management.

Data from all of these surveys is currently being entered and analyzed.

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: Amit Pradhananga

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

Project start date: 2018

Estimated project end date: 2020

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