Research Spotlight: Invasive Species

Lurking beneath the water. Cleverly disguised as harmless greenery. Crossing continents by hitching rides with unsuspecting travellers. Invasive species are wiping out populations of native species.

University of Waterloo scientists are studying the migration, behaviour and impacts of invasive species to help managers prevent, predict and manage the next big invasion. 

Featured Research 

PREDICTING THE IMPACT

Kim Cuddington

Invasive species use landmarking to find love in a hopeless place

Ecologist Prof. Kim Cuddington demonstrates that when destructive invasive species such as Asian carp use this highly efficient mate finding strategy, officials need to worry. Understanding how landmarking works is the key to population control for both endangered species conservation as well as invasive species control.

 

Heidi Swanson

Waterloo creates cutting-edge tool to help predict impact of invasive species

Being able to predict how a species "fits" into an environment can help managers prevent, predict, and manage the next big invasion. Researchers Heidi Swanson, Michael Power and Martin lysy created nicheROVER – the first fully customizable statistical package to help predict the impact of invasive species.

  

ASSESSING THE PROBLEM

Bloody shrimp

Gathering evidence on the latest Great Lakes’ invader

Since the discovery of the bloody red shrimp in the Great Lakes researchers have been trying to determine if the nocturnal shrimp will pose a significant ecological threat. Biologist Jessica Ives and Prof. Michael Power use stable isotopes to track the impact of the bloody red shrimp on the Great Lakes' aquatic food web. 

  

Muller

Waterloo biologist discovers ancient red algae quietly invading the Great Lakes

Bangia atropurpurea, a 160 million-year-old red algae, has quietly taken over the rocky shorelines of the Great Lakes. Biologist Kirsten Müller is studying the migration of the algae to understand its effect on native algae communities and how it's able to avoid ballast water exchange protocols.

   

MANAGING THE INVASION

Zebra and quagga mussels

Waterloo biologists model the big impacts of zebra mussels in Lake Simcoe

Zebra and quagga mussels have changed the ecology of some of the largest lakes in the world and cost governments more than $7 billion in damage. Professor Ralph Smith and Astrid Schwalb, along with researchers from Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, have developed a new modeling tool that can be used to study and predict the ecological impacts of mussels.

  

Wetland

Protecting wetlands and birds from the invasion of the standing dead

Reaching up to 15 feet tall, Phragmites australis is invading our roadways, shorelines and destroying habitat by choking out other species. Professor Rebecca Rooney and master's student Courtney Robichaud are tracking the effect of Phragmites on rare migrating and nesting birds in Lake Erie's Long Point marsh.

Featured Video 

Waterloo researchers are helping us understand and monitor invasive species.