After direct prevention measures, the most cost effective way of stopping a new introduction from becoming an invasion is rapid response, which is dependent on early detection. Early detection/monitoring capabilities allow us to detect new invasions before they can become established, increase the feasibility of eradication by catching infestations early, and ultimately protecting our conservation investments and saving long-term control and management costs. Developing partnerships and providing tools to enhance capacity to find, report, and ultimately eradicate new invaders, particularly in light of climate change impacts, are critically important to minimizing the ecological and economic impacts of invasive species.
Monitoring and reporting locations is also vital to preventing the spread of aquatic invaders. When high-risk or well traveled paths are identified during monitoring activities, outreach efforts can be targeted to these pathways. The 100th Meridian Initiative is one example of this approach.
Another example is eDNA. The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), is partnering with the University of Notre Dame to develop a surveillance program for invasive species at risk of invading the Great Lakes. This technology uses suspended DNA in the aquatic environment (environmental DNA or eDNA) to confirm the presence of organisms present in low numbers and possibly “invisible” to traditional sampling methods. This new and innovative technology should be expected to significantly benefit many Service programs working with aquatic species.