Network analysis to inform invasive species spread among lakes

Luis E. Escobar, Daniel Romero-Alvarez, Daniel J. Larkin, Nicholas B.D. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Often facilitated by human-mediated pathways, aquatic invasive species are a threat to the health and biodiversity of global ecosystems. We present a novel approach incorporating survey data of watercraft movement in a social network analysis to reconstruct potential pathways of aquatic invasive species spread between lakes. As an example, we use the green alga Nitellopsis obtusa, also known as starry stonewort, an aquatic invasive species affecting the Great Lakes region in the United States and Canada. The movement of algal fragments via human-mediated pathways (i.e., watercraft) has been hypothesized as the primary driver of starry stonewort invasion. We used survey data collected at boat ramps during the 2013 and 2014 openwater seasons to describe the fl ow of watercraft from Lake Koronis, where N. obtusa was first detected in Minnesota, to other lakes in the state. Our results suggest that the risk of N. obtusa expansion is not highly constrained by geographic proximity and management efforts should consider highly connected lakes. Estimating human movement via network analysis may help to explain past and future routes of aquatic invasive species infestation between lakes and can improve evidence-based prevention and control efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Oceanology and Limnology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Nitellopsis obtusa
  • invasion
  • lake
  • network
  • starry stonewort

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