Learning about Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are plants and animals that have been introduced into new ecosystems, resulting in harm to the habitat or species there, as well as human use of those resources. Invading species often displace beneficial native species, and reduce overall biodiversity. Recognizing new invasions early can allow for prompt control efforts, and perhaps even eradication, protecting the environment and reducing costs. A number of aquatic invasive species (both plants and animals) are already found in Rhode Island’s waters, and preventing their spread to additional waterbodies requires us all to be aware and vigilant – inspect boats before moving from one site to another!

Aquatic plants, often called “weeds” when they grow at densities that interfere with swimming, fishing and crowd out native species, are an important part of our lake and river ecosystems. Plants not only provide food for many animals, but also hide young fish and take up excess nutrients preventing algal blooms. Unfortunately non-native plants that are introduced into our waterbodies do not typically have their natural predators to help keep a natural balance, often resulting in nuisance conditions.

Want to get involved in aquatic invasive monitoring? Check out Mitten Crab Watch – which is looking for reports of sitings of this potentially harmful species.  Learn how you can identify and report it by clicking here.