Frequently Asked Questions About Invasive Species

What is an invasive species?
Invasive species are non-native species that have the potential to become established and the potential to spread widely and cause ecological or economic harm or pose a risk to human health.

Why should we be concerned about invasive species?
Invasive species are a top threat to biodiversity because they compete with native species for food and habitat. Invasive species can also directly or indirectly kill or displace native species, degrade habitat and alter food webs. They have significant economic effects on property values, tourism, utilities and industry. Invasive species can also be a health risk to humans, either directly or indirectly, by introducing disease and toxins. Having concern for invasive species is a value judgment. When invasive species impact or have the potential to impact something we value, we should consider actions to prevent introductions and spread, and control or eradicate when possible.

How do invasive species get in Michigan?
Unfortunately, there are many vectors and pathways by which invasive species enter Michigan. Perhaps the best-known vector for many aquatic invaders has been ballast water from ocean-going ships. Trade markets for live organisms, whether they are plants in the nursery industry or fish in the aquarium industry, are also a common vector for new invasions. The pathway of introduction is unknown for many invasive species that now exist in Michigan. The spread of existing invasions can occur through roadside maintenance, intentional dispersal, wind dispersal and any number of other methods.

What can be done about invasive species in Michigan?
While some invasive species will always be present in Michigan, we can lessen the harmful impacts from existing invasion, eradicate/control priority invasions and prevent many new invasions through education, planning and early detection. The most important thing any individual can do is learn steps to prevent new invasions and be a part of an active network that reports new occurrences and the spread of existing occurrences of invasive species. You can report an invasive species to MISIN (Midwest Invasive Species Information Network) or learn more about how to get involved.