USGS developed the new NAS Alert System to track the spread of invasive species nationwide. Now, users can report nonindigenous and invasive aquatic species they sight, automatically receive email alerts, or perform searches on aquatic species -- such as American alligators in Pennsylvania, Asian carp in Colorado, or snakehead fishes in Virginia. The system is flexible, providing two different perspectives one to a user interested in an area, the other to users interested in a species whether the user chooses automatic alerts or prefers to search the site.
"Although this system debuted only in late July, we already are seeing benefits, some beyond what we anticipated," said Pam Fuller, invasive species biologist at USGS's Florida Integrated Science Center who invented and developed the system with Shawn Dalton of Johnson Controls. "For the first time, the science community and nature hobbyists have a forum to exchange information and document the appearance of species in new locations." Nonindigenous aquatic species are members of a species that enter a body of water outside of their historic native range. An invasive species is a nonindigenous species whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, environment, or human health.
"Early detection and response are critical in reducing the damage caused when nonindigenous species become invasive," said Fuller. "Waterways, lakes, and oceans are particularly vulnerable because underwater surveillance is certainly more difficult than monitoring land. We anticipate that this tool will be quite useful to the wildlife management community."