Invasive Species Centre Supported Projects for 2013-14
The Invasive Species Centre (ISC) is a partnership-based, not-for-profit organization established in 2011 by the governments of Ontario and Canada. The ISC facilitates cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication among a wide range of stakeholder groups involved with the prevention, detection and management of invasive forest, plant and aquatic species.
The ISC supports a number of projects from partnering organizations. These projects typically involve:
- Education and outreach efforts, so that Ontarians can play their part in defending the province from invasive species.
- Research and policy development, so that we better understand invasive species and options for prevention, detection, management, and eradication.
- Technology and knowledge sharing, to inform collaboration and a coordinated response across Ontario and neighbouring jurisdictions.
Sample of projects for 2013-14:
Ontario Invasive Plant Council's Public Awareness Campaign: Look Before You Leave!
This education and awareness campaign helps people understand what they can do to help stop the spread of invasive species. With Ontario's many outdoor recreation enthusiasts — who camp, fish, hike, tour on ATVs, or paddle in our lakes — it's easy to accidentally let an invasive species hitchhike along on your vacation (or come home with you). Expanding on the program it launched in 2011, the council will create public service messages and school kits to increase awareness of how people can protect Ontario's biodiversity by doing something simple: Look Before You Leave!
Defending Ontario from the Mountain Pine Beetle Invasion from the West
This Canadian Forest Service and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources project is investigating the risk to Ontario and its forests by the advancing mountain pine beetle. This western species has expanded into Alberta after killing more than 18 million hectares of pine forests in British Columbia. Working in collaboration with researchers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, this project will assess the risk of the insect spreading east.
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Mobile App for Detecting Invaders
The OFAH is working to develop an Invasive Species Android and iPhone app that will help identify and track invasive species throughout Ontario. The mobile app will give Ontarians an important tool to help battle invasive species. The data gathered will also be available to the public and researchers in a digital “data warehouse.”
Trent University's use of eDNA to Detect Aquatic Invasive Species
Researchers in Peterborough are undertaking two projects this year. The first will determine how environmental DNA (eDNA) can be used for early detection of round goby, a fish that hitchhiked to Ontario on European ships and was first discovered in the 1990s. Round goby cause significant damage to native fish communities. Researchers plan to use eDNA to map and better understand where these invasive perpetrators are lurking.
In another project, researchers will investigate using eDNA to detect water soldier in the Trent Severn Waterway. Water soldier is an invasive plant that crowds other plants and grows in dense, floating mats on the water, hindering boaters, anglers, and swimmers. It also poses a risk to humans as its sharp, serrated leaves can cut swimmers. Using eDNA may bolster scientists' efforts to rapidly detect new invasions of water soldier.
Both Carleton University and the University of Toronto's projects will focus on defending Ontario's ash trees from the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has killed millions of trees in southern Ontario, damaging landscapes and costing municipalities and landowners millions of dollars to remove and replace these trees.
Carleton University's Sample of Natural Predators and Parasitoids
Ottawa researchers will look at the locations of native natural enemies of the emerald ash borer to assess the potential of its spread. Predicting and preventing invasion is a best management practice.
University of Toronto's Biocontrol Program
In this project, researchers are building a biocontrol program that will introduce native natural enemies — a “biocontrol agent” — in newly infested areas. In some sites in Ontario, scientists have observed native parasitic wasps attacking emerald ash borer, but usually only in situations where the invasive insect had already caused significant damage to trees. Researchers think they can help native parasitic wasps develop a stronger appetite for the invasive insect. At the University of Toronto, wasps are being raised to be released into urban and rural forests to help save Ontario's ash trees.