A pound of prevention, plus a pound of cure: Early detection and eradication of invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes

M. Jake Vander Zanden, Gretchen J.A. Hansen, Scott N. Higgins, Matthew S. Kornis

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Ballast water regulations implemented in the early 1990s appear not to have slowed the rate of new aquatic invasive species (AIS) establishment in the Great Lakes. With more invasive species on the horizon, we examine the question of whether eradication of AIS is a viable management strategy for the Laurentian Great Lakes, and what a coordinated AIS early detection and eradication program would entail. In-lake monitoring would be conducted to assess the effectiveness of regulations aimed at stopping new AIS, and to maximize the likelihood of early detection of new invaders. Monitoring would be focused on detecting the most probable invaders, the most invasion-prone habitats, and the species most conducive to eradication. When a new non-native species is discovered, an eradication assessment would be conducted and used to guide the management response. In light of high uncertainty, management decisions must be robust to a range of impact and control scenarios. Though prevention should continue to be the cornerstone of management efforts, we believe that a coordinated early detection and eradication program is warranted if the Great Lakes management community and stakeholders are serious about reducing undesired impacts stemming from new AIS in the Great Lakes. Development of such a program is an opportunity for the Laurentian Great Lakes resource management community to demonstrate global leadership in invasive species management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-205
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper is adapted from a white paper prepared by MJVZ for the National Research Council Committee ‘The St. Lawrence Seaway: Options to eliminate introductions of aquatic invasive species (AIS) into the Great Lakes’, Transportation Research Board Special Report 291. Comments and discussion with the NRC committee members, Tony Ricciardi, Phil Moy, Jim Kitchell, and Chuck Krueger improved the manuscript. Special thanks to Joy Zedler for her support in considering these issues. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Sea Grant Program have provided financial support for research on the ecology and management of aquatic invasive species.


  • Ballast water
  • Early detection
  • Eradication
  • Laurentian Great Lakes
  • Monitoring
  • Risk assessment


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