What is an Invasive Species and How Do They Affect Our Lakes and Waterways?

What is an Invasive Species and How Do They Affect Our Lakes and Waterways?

Invasive species are having a huge impact on the Great Lakes and waterways in this country. These species can be destructive and cause long-term damage to marine habitats. An Invasive species is an organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native.

Invasive species are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, which reduces the diversity of marine life. These species have limited to no predators, so it is easy for them to reproduce and spread quickly. The invasive species compete with our native wildlife for food, water, shelter, and space. They are very harmful to our fish, wildlife, and plant resources. Because they reproduce at a rapid rate, they outnumber the native species, short-circuit the food chain, and start to change and damage native habitats.

The Great Lakes ecosystem has been drastically damaged by more than 180 invasive and non-native species. Examples of invasive species: zebra mussel, quagga mussel, round goby, sea lamprey, and alewife. Non-native plants such as Eurasian, watermilfoil, and purple loosestrife also harm the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Because of the damage to the ecosystems in our lakes and waterways, people’s health and their environment are being harmed. Invasive species can threaten human health and hurt the Great Lakes economy by harming critical industries like fisheries, agriculture, and tourism. There have been reports of people being hospitalized due to injuries received while boating on rivers infested by the Asian carp, which can easily leap over a boat. There are also locations that are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to fish, boat, or swim on a lake covered by invasive plants.

This is PART 1 of a 2-PART Series. Next week we will be covering: How is an Invasive Species Spread and How to Prevent it!

(Remember to inspect your boat lines and dock ties and replace as needed. Boat lines and dock ties weather and weaken over time.)

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