What Are Aquatic Invasive Species?
Lakes are natural ecosystems with a wide variety of aquatic organisms. A healthy lake ecosystem is one that includes native aquatic plants and animals. Aquatic invasive species (AIS) (sometimes called exotic, invasive, nonindigenous or non-native species) are aquatic organisms that invade ecosystems beyond their natural, historic range. Their presence may disrupt lake ecosystems and the various uses of a waterbody (recreation, public water supply, etc.)
Aquatic Invasive Plants in New York
Aquatic plants are a natural part of any lake ecosystem, and Chapter 6 of “Diet for a Small Lake” entitled “Aquatic Plants: Not Just Weeds” provides an excellent resource for lake associations.
Some of the most common and disruptive aquatic invasive plants in New York include Eurasian watermilfoil, water chestnut, curly leaf pondweed, hydrilla, fanwort, Brazilian elodea, and starry stonewort.
Aquatic Invasive Animals in New York
A variety of introduced aquatic animal species have been introduced to New York lakes. These include zebra mussels, quagga mussels, banded and Chinese mystery snails, the spiny and fishhook water fleas, and several invasive fish species.
Where Can I Get More Information?
NY iMAP Invasives is an excellent resource providing identification training sessions, mapping technology, and additional information for lake associations.
The New York Invasive Species Information Clearinghouse http://nyis.info/ is also a good source of information for both aquatic and terrestrial species in New York.
NYSFOLA has also compiled a list of AIS by county: https://nysfola.org/ais-by-county/
New York also has seven Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMS) that coordinate a wide variety of AIS activities across the state.
The United States Geological Survey also maintains a database and information about invasive species.
How do I look for invasive plants in my lake?
NYSFOLA and DEC have developed a protocol for Aquatic Invasive Plant Surveillance Citizen Scientists on Lakes. You can also conduct a more thorough rake toss survey for a more thorough investigation.