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GLIN==> The Nature Conservancy and the University of Notre Dame Join Forces to Address Invasive Species Threats in Great Lakes



Submitted by Christopher Anderson <canderson@tnc.org>


For Immediate Release Tuesday, March 14, 2006



The Nature Conservancy and the University of Notre Dame

Join Forces to Address Invasive Species Threats in Great Lakes



CHICAGO - The Nature Conservancy and the University of Notre Dame announced a new partnership today to address the ecological and economic damage of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes.



The partnership will merge The Nature Conservancy's record of on-the-ground work in protecting significant conservation sites with Notre Dame's expertise and experience in studying aquatic invaders.



Scientists leading this initiative will be charged with identifying those invaders that currently exist in the Great Lakes system and those that have the likelihood of entering; forecasting how and where they may spread; determining their ecological and financial impact; and developing best practices for their early detection, prevention and management.



Research will focus on pathways in which invasive species are introduced or spread: shipping, trade, recreational boating and canals.



"We're thrilled to work with the University of Notre Dame in this important effort," said John Andersen, director of the Conservancy's Great Lakes Program. "Invasive species are an enormous threat to the Great Lakes. It is critical that we find ecologically and financially sound solutions."



As a result of this new agreement, Notre Dame will establish a Center for Aquatic Conservation directed by David Lodge, an ecologist and professor experienced in forecasting the introduction, spread and effect of non-native aquatic species. The Center will serve as the place where scientists gather, analyze and distribute research.



"The Great Lakes are one of the major entryways for freshwater non-native species into North

America," Lodge said. "Once an invasive species is introduced to an aquatic system it can spread rapidly.



Preventing their introduction is therefore critical not only to the Great Lakes, but also to other freshwater

ecosystems. We must also contain invasive species that are already living in and harming our lakes, rivers and creeks."



Researchers will forecast which established invaders are likely to spread and which species are likely to be introduced into the Great Lakes by analyzing trade patterns. Statistical and computer models will be used to predict the effects of invasive species. Scientists will also identify areas in the Great Lakes that are highly vulnerable to invaders and assess alternative strategies to prevent the import or release of invasive species. Early detection and rapid response will be analyzed for their effectiveness. Another possible approach is to slow the spread of invaders within the Great Lakes, from the Great Lakes to adjacent inland waters and from adjacent inland waters into the Great Lakes.



"Invasive species have caused severe environmental and economic damage in the Great Lakes and other waterways across the U.S. and Canada," said John Randall, director of the Conservancy's Global Invasive Species Initiative. "This partnership allows us to team excellent research with a practical, solution-oriented approach to prevent new harmful invasions and to minimize the damage done by invaders that are already here in North American waters. We will work to advance public policy and to encourage collaborative, voluntary efforts with industries and other private and public institutions."



Research and findings that result from this partnership will serve as a model for other freshwater systems in the United States and internationally. The partnership is expected to target additional watersheds in the future where there are opportunities to advance policies and strategies that reduce the threat of invasive species.



Contact:

The Nature Conservancy

Chris Anderson, (312) 218-0186 (cell)

OR

John Andersen, (312) 759-8017 ext. 15,

(312) 953-2114 (cell), jandersen@tnc.org



The University of Notre Dame

David Lodge, (574) 631-6094, (574) 631-2849,

lodge.1@nd.edu



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The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.



The University of Notre Dame is an institution dedicated to advancing knowledge in a search for truth through original inquiry and publication, graduate and professional education and research, and the constructive and critical engagement with the whole of human culture. Notre Dame has a strong history of accomplishment in environmental research, and active programs on current problems including invasive species, climate change, water pollution, habitat management and overharvesting.

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