Great Lakes Region

GLANSIS: A Database of Aquatic Invaders for Scientists and Citizens Alike

Of all the challenges facing the Great Lakes in recent decades, the prevention and management of invasive species has generated significant ongoing public concern. Aquatic invaders are a hot topic for good reason: as of 2018, more than 180 aquatic nonindigenous species are already established in the Great Lakes region, where many of them damage environmental, economic, and human health. These introduced animals, plants, and microorganisms can disrupt food webs, outcompete native species, and even transmit disease.

GLANSIS serves as the Great Lakes’ “one-stop shop” that centralizes and synthesizes the best available information to support effective management and control strategies that limit the introduction, spread, and impact of Aquatic Nonindigenous Species (ANS) in the Great Lakes.

The ability to accurately identify these species, track their spread, and access information about how to control them is a necessity for environmental scientists and resource managers. Researchers are not the only ones who can benefit from a reliable, comprehensive information source about aquatic invaders, either. For years, citizens, students, and community leaders have expressed concern about the health of their local waterways, and many want to learn more about how to help.

The Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Information System (GLANSIS) is designed to meet the information needs of scientists and citizens alike. Hosted by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL), funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), and staffed in part by CIGLR, the database provides identification and management information, sighting maps, and reference material for over 250 nonindigenous and watchlist species in the Great Lakes basin. The database is composed of several tools:

  • The List Generator search feature allows users to look up information by scientific and common names, taxonomic groups, and specific lakes and their watersheds in order to generate species lists and access information about each of them.

The List Generator search tool generates species lists queried by basin, taxa, status, or vector. This tool also allows users to quickly access introduction timelines and fact sheets that contain ecological information, risk assessment scores, management information, and more.

 

  • The Map Explorer displays all sightings of a chosen species, links to in-depth collection records, and allows users to quickly map sightings of “hot button” species like zebra mussels and round gobies with a single click using environmental data layers from the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework (GLAHF).
  • Species-specific risk assessments, reference material and external links to other resources are also available through the Web Portal.

New to GLANSIS – Users can search for aquatic nuisance species in specific subwatersheds via the Map Explorer.

 

As a free, publically-accessible online tool, GLANSIS serves as an information hub for a wide variety of users. In addition to providing resources for scientific and management professionals, citizens and stakeholders can also use the database to identify, report, and help stop the spread of aquatic invaders. This easy access to both technical and plain-language fact sheets, customizable searches, and many other functions can help teachers, students, lake associations, and property owners learn more about how to protect the Great Lakes.

 

For more information on aquatic nonindigenous species, explore the GLANSIS website at https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/glansis/. For assistance in using the database or suggestions for additional information that GLANSIS should provide, contact El Lower (ellower@umich.edu), GLANSIS Research Associate, or Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant, GLANSIS Program Manager (Rochelle.Sturtevant@noaa.gov). Dr. Sturtevant’s GLANSIS work is funded through the CIGLR Regional Consortium at Michigan State University.

Related Resources

  • WGTE Town Hall featuring Rochelle Sturtevant (video)
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