Jump to main content.

Research informing development of a Great Lakes basin-wide invasive species monitoring network


EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office requested that ORD continue a series of case studies successfully initiated in 2005-2006 to provide a foundation for development and eventual implementation of a Great Lakes-wide early detection monitoring network. Such a network has been a listed outcome of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for FY2014 and is also a priority indentified under Annex 6 (Aquatic Invasive Species) of the recently signed amendment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the US and Canada. A strong technical basis for an early detection model approach has been lacking. Initial ORD studies illustrated that field and modeling research could further address and improve the efficiency of search strategies, the incorporation of new molecular identification techniques, and an over-arching evaluation of design options for the intended broad-scale, multi-species early detection network.

Rationale and Research Approach:

This research project has the goal of providing some of the technical basis for development of a Great Lakes early detection network for invasive species. Building on findings from 2005-2007 work in the St. Louis River estuary, additional studies in 2012-2013 will extend and refine early detection sampling strategies by 1) evaluating transferability and challenges to early detection across a variety of system types and taxonomic groups; and 2) advancing DNA techniques for taxonomy and detection by partnering with staff at EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) in Cincinnati to build a DNA signature library and evaluate DNA performance questions. Field work will employ a variety of sampling techniques and sampling platforms (from small boats to Lake Explorer II) to collect larval fish, adult fish, benthic invertebrates, and supporting environmental data from multiple locations in the St. Louis River estuary and Isle Royale waters. Laboratory work involves extensive taxonomy (a combination of in-house and contract work), plus some limited chemical analyses of environmental samples. Statistical and numerical analysis of the data will employ tools such as randomization analyses and species accumulation analyses to characterize effectiveness and efficiency of various sampling procedures and designs. Outcomes from this research will include development of more refined and robust sampling strategies for potential non-indigenous species in different coastal systems across the Great Lakes, and an evaluation of the capacity and efficiency to supplement morphological identification with DNA-based identification.

MED Scientists:

Joel Hoffman
Anett Trebitz
Greg Peterson



Expected Products:




FY2014 Report on summary findings: incorporation of efficient search strategies, molecular identification techniques, and design options as technical foundation for a Great lakes early detection network. Anett Trebitz
FY2014 Guidance document on best practices and implementation of community-wide metagenetic and metagenomic detection of AIS. Erik Pilgrim

Top of page

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.