Early detection monitoring for aquatic non-indigenous species: Optimizing surveillance, incorporating advanced technologies, and identifying research needs

Anett S. Trebitz, Joel C. Hoffman, John A. Darling, Erik M. Pilgrim, John R. Kelly, Emily A. Brown, W. Lindsay Chadderton, Scott P. Egan, Erin K. Grey, Syed A. Hashsham, Katy E. Klymus, Andrew R. Mahon, Jeffrey L. Ram, Martin T. Schultz, Carol A. Stepien, James C. Schardt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Following decades of ecologic and economic impacts from a growing list of nonindigenous and invasive species, government and management entities are committing to systematic early- detection monitoring (EDM). This has reinvigorated investment in the science underpinning such monitoring, as well as the need to convey that science in practical terms to those tasked with EDM implementation. Using the context of nonindigenous species in the North American Great Lakes, this article summarizes the current scientific tools and knowledge – including limitations, research needs, and likely future developments – relevant to various aspects of planning and conducting comprehensive EDM. We begin with the scope of the effort, contrasting target-species with broad-spectrum monitoring, reviewing information to support prioritization based on species and locations, and exploring the challenge of moving beyond individual surveys towards a coordinated monitoring network. Next, we discuss survey design, including effort to expend and its allocation over space and time. A section on sample collection and analysis overviews the merits of collecting actual organisms versus shed DNA, reviews the capabilities and limitations of identification by morphology, DNA target markers, or DNA barcoding, and examines best practices for sample handling and data verification. We end with a section addressing the analysis of monitoring data, including methods to evaluate survey performance and characterize and communicate uncertainty. Although the body of science supporting EDM implementation is already substantial, research and information needs (many already actively being addressed) include: better data to support risk assessments that guide choice of taxa and locations to monitor; improved understanding of spatiotemporal scales for sample collection; further development of DNA target markers, reference barcodes, genomic workflows, and synergies between DNA-based and morphology-based taxonomy; and tools and information management systems for better evaluating and communicating survey outcomes and uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • DNA-based taxonomy
  • Early-detection monitoring
  • Morphological taxonomy
  • Survey design
  • Uncertainty characterization


Dive into the research topics of 'Early detection monitoring for aquatic non-indigenous species: Optimizing surveillance, incorporating advanced technologies, and identifying research needs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this