Reducing the risk of spreading nonindigenous plants, animals, and microorganisms through science fair projects
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Title: Reducing the risk of spreading nonindigenous plants, animals, and microorganisms through science fair projects
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Creator: Jacoby, Charles
Publisher: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
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Publication Date: 2007
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CIR1499 Reducing the risk of introducing or spreading nonindigenous plants, animals, and microorganisms through science and engineering fair projects1 Charles Jacoby2Science and engineering fairs create unique opportunitiesfor participants to learn and apply scientificmethods. In biological and ecological sciences, acquiringknowledge about the organisms under study represents a critical part of the scientific process. In recent years, scientists have recognized that their work can cause biological invasions. Biological invasions involve economic, social and ecological harm arising from the introduction or spread of organisms beyondtheirnative or existing ranges, that is the introductionor spread of nonindigenous organisms. When planningand conducting their work, scientists now consider how to avoid or manage these risks. Participants in science and engineering fairs have the opportunity and responsibility to apply similar considerations. Nonindigenous organismscan be involved in scienceand engineering fair projects deliberately or accidentally. For example, projects can investigate the biology, ecology and management of nonindigenous organisms or study them to provide insights into basic biological questions. In addition, nonindigenous organismscan be transported accidentally during field studies or collecting. These interactions generate risks of introducing or spreading nonindigenous organisms and causing a biological invasion. Concerns about the introduction and spread of nonindigenous species and subsequent biological invasions have led to laws, policies, management, education and other efforts to reduce the risk of such events at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. Participants in science and engineering fairs should recognize and address these risks explicitly. Reasons for concern A nonindigenous organism is one moved beyond its native range, for example an organism transported to North America during European colonizationor between watersheds within a state. We all interact with nonindigenous species because such organisms have provided and continue to provide value in numerous ways, including most of our food, fiber, pets and ornamental landscaping. Nonindigenous species also represent the starting point in a chain of events that can lead to invasive species (Figure 1). Invasive species cause economic, social or ecological harm. Thus, nonindigenous species represent a key element in the risk of biological invasions. 1This documentisCIR1499, one of a series from the Depar tment of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Se rvice, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Universityof Florida. Original EDIS publication date: February, 2007. Visit the ED ISWeb Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.2Charles Jacoby, Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Univer sityofFlorida, Gainesville, 32611. Copyright Information This document is copyrighted by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and AgriculturalSciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of the State of Florida. UF/IFAS retainsall rights under all conventions, but permits free reproduction by all agents and offices ofth e Cooperative Extension Service and thepeople oftheState of Florida. Permissionisgranted to others to use these materialsin part or in full for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given totheUF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and dateof publication. The Institute ofFood andAgriculturalSciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educati onal information and other servicesonly toindividuals andinstitutionsthat functionwith non-discriminationwith respect to race, creed,color, religion age, disability,sex, sexual orientation,marital status,national origin, politicalopinions or affiliations. U.S. Department ofAgriculture, Cooperativ e ExtensionService, Universityof Florida,IFAS,FloridaA. & M.University Cooperative ExtensionProgram, and Boards ofCounty CommissionersCooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 2 New range Border Natural or existing range Species does not cause harm Species fails to establish in new range Species fails to survive transport Species enters pathway for transport Species transported and introduced Species becomes established in a new range Species becomes invasive by causing harmFigure 1. Steps in the process generating invasive species.1Defining the risk Risk involves two main components: the likelihood that a problem will occur and the potential magnitude of theproblem. For nonindigenous species, risk can be defined as 1) the likelihood that an organism will be introduced,becomeestablished, which means it creates a self-sustaining population, and cause harm and 2) the amount of harm it can cause. The likelihood of nonindigenous species being introducedor spread has increased in the recent past in parallel with increased global trade and travel (Figure 2). Along with an increase in the number of introductions, we also have seen an increase in pathways or the ways that species can be introduced (Box 1). Important pathways span the range fromaccidental releases from industry, such as organisms in ballast water released during shipping to intentional releases by individuals, such as release of a pet. 0 50 100 150Number of species 17901 819 1820-1849 1850-1879 1880-1909 191 01939 1940-1969 1970-1999Figure 2. Rate of new invasions by marine invertebrates and seaweeds in the U.S. coastal zone from 1790 to 1999 (374 total invasions).2, 3


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 3 Box 1. An example of increased pathways for introductions.2 In 1800, Carcinusmaenas the European shorecrab, could travel across oceansasa hitchhiker on shipshullsand ballast rocks. By 1900, these crabs couldalso travel in ballast water,as hitchhikers on imported oysters and as importedfooditems. By the year 2000,ballast rocks were no longer beingused, but six new pathways appeared:bait, aquarium pets, specimens used inschools,specimens used in research, hitchhikers in shipments of lobsters and hitchhikerson oil productionplatforms. Box 2. Examples of damage causedby the accidental spread of nonindigenous organisms.2, 5, 6,7, 8, 9 A tropical alga, Caulerpa taxifolia exhibited an unexpected tolerance of cold after being accidentally releasedfrom a European aquariuminto the northwest Mediterranean. Its tolerance of winter temperatureshelped it blanket tensto hundredsof square kilometers of seafloor and out-compete nearshore plants and animals.Thereis evidencethatthis species altersthe distributionandforaging of fish, including commercial species. Zebramussels blanketboats, docks, intake and outflow pipes, and otherhard surfacesin densities up to700,000 per squaremeter. Monitoring and removing thisnonindigenous organism costs tens of millions of dollars annually. In addition,zebra musselssmother andout-compete native mussels, manyof whichare in danger of extinction. Hydrillaverticillata came into the United States as an aquarium plant. It escaped and spread. Asquare meterof H verticillata can produce thousands of long-lived tubers that survive poor conditions and growwhen conditionsare right. In addition, pieces of this submerged freshwater planttanglein outboard motorsor boattrailers. Unintentionaltransport of suchpieceshas spread thisplant through many states, where it hasout-competedother submerged plants andkilled fish and other aquatic life by stopping dissolved oxygen from mixing into somewaterbodies. The plant is verydifficult to eliminate, and arounda hundredmillion dollars will be spent oncontrol measures each year for the foreseeablefuture.The average likelihood that an introduced organism becomes established and causes harm is low. Some scientists estimate that 5% of introduced species become established and 5% of established organisms become invasive.4 This rule is not hard and fast, with selective breeding and other situations creating more or fewer invasions than predicted. Regardless of the actual rate, more introductions translate into more invasions. Introduced and established organisms can become invasive, which means they cause harm. Among other impacts, invasive organisms overgrow or out-competenative organisms, alter ecological systems, or foul water intakes, buoys or other structures (Box 2). In general, the costs of biological invasions are poorly known, hard to calculateand difficult to evaluate relative to direct economic benefits derived from nonindigenous species. Although disputed, the direct economic and environmental costs of biological invasions in the United States have been estimated at over $100 billion per year, and another study lists invasions as second only to habitat loss in pressuring threatened and endangered species.10, 11 Indirect costs, such as changes to biodiversity, ecosystem functioning or aesthetics, are not included in these estimates. In summary,we are introducing an increasing number of nonindigenousorganisms. This increased number of introductions is likely to lead to an increased number of invasions. In total, invasions cause substantial harm even when harm is defined narrowly. Someintroductionsand invasions come from activities similarto those undertaken by participants in science and engineering fairs, with escape or release of a few organisms fromaquaria being two key examples. In addition to intentional interactions, science and engineering fair projects can interact with nonindigenous species accidentally. Participants have the opportunity and responsibilityto recognize and address the risks of introducing or spreading nonindigenous species.


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 4 Managing nonindigenous organisms Eliminating the use and movement of nonindigenous species is unlikely because we have woven such species into our lives. However, managing the movement and use of nonindigenous organisms represents a valuable approach to reducing the risk of biological invasion because predicting which nonindigenous organisms will become invasive is difficult in many situations. Lists of species shown to be invasive can guide some choices (Appendix A). However, these hard-won lessons have not and may never yield a foolproof means of predicting or detecting introductions that will cause problems. For example, organisms can cope, adapt, or hybridize, and some nonindigenous parasitesand pathogens are not obvious (Box 3). Scientific studies, in particular those using nonindigenous organisms, create risks of causing an invasion. Risks should be managed to help ensure that costs do not outweigh benefits. For example, participants should take specific measures to ensure nonindigenous plants, animals, viable reproductive products, parasites and pathogens are not introduced or transferred purposefullyor accidentally. A risk evaluation flow chart can help identify possibilities for spreading nonindigenousorganisms through scienceand engineering fair projects and point out critical management efforts (Appendix B). Review at the planning stage represents the best approach for all science and engineering fair projects involvingplants, animals or microorganisms. For all species involved in the study, participants should attempt to determine their status as native, cryptogenic or nonindigenous. Such information will guide the design of handling and disposal procedures. In addition, the potential for accidental transfer of nonindigenous organisms should be assessed. Web sites and state and federal agencies can assist (Appendix A and Appendix C). Box 3. Examplesofthedifficulties associated with predicting biologicalinvasions.2, 12, 13 Green mussels ( Pernaviridis )invaded Tampa Bay, Florida in 1999, with ballast water being the likely pathway. Their limited ability to survivecold waterled to a predictedoptimal range that extended south fromcentral Florida. Green mussels have now been sighted in Georgia and South Carolina, but it is too early to know if they will becomeestablished. A nonindigenouscord grass ( Spartina sp.) introduced intosouthern England from North America hybridized with the native cordgrassandproducedan invasive strain. Asian chestnut blight fungus ( Chryphonectriaparasitica ) came into New York as an unseen hitchhiker on importednursery stock,andtheblight destroyed almost all the chestnuts in eastern forests. A minute organism, Myxoboluscerebralis was introducedin the United States from the Eurasiancontinent. Thismetazoan parasite infects trout,salmonand relatedcold-water fish. Itcausesmortality in young fish, skeletaldeformities, loss of equilibrium, erraticswimming (thusthenamewhirling disease), decreasedfeeding and increased predation. Thesporesof M cerebralis can be spread by moving infectedfish that may not exhibit any outward signs of the disease.If review indicates that nonindigenous speciesare or could be involved, the projects methodology should include steps to handle and dispose of them without releasing them into new environments. Controllingnonindigenous organismsmay involve physical, biological, chemical, and environmental barriers to confine or contain all stages of the organisms life history. Sampling during the project may need to include methods for cleaning or sterilizing boats and other gear between sampling efforts. Detailed plans should be tailored to the individual project, allow for uncertainties and be based on available guidelines (Appendix D). In an effort to ensure thoroughplanning, participants should document the species involved in a project and plans to manage them.


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 5 A participants thorough knowledge of all species involved in their science and engineering fair project increases the quality of the project and provides resources to help avoid accidental introductionor spread of nonindigenous organisms. Suitable documentation for each species in the project should include: life history, biology, parasites and pathogens; critical environmental tolerances; typical ecological interactions; performance if previously introduced into a non-native environment; and native range and present geographic distribution and status as nonindigenous species. Anyplan to avoid introducing or spreading nonindigenous organisms is only as good as its implementation and adaptation to unforeseen circumstances. Success depends on rigorous and conscientious monitoring and evaluation by participants and supervisors. Participants must follow approved measures and address any unexpected problems quickly and effectively. Efforts must extend to the proper disposal of all materials, which can be as important as experimentalor sampling procedures in efforts to contain nonindigenousorganisms. In properly described projects, scienceand engineering fair officials, supervisors and participants can gain confidence that measures to avoid the spread of nonindigenous organisms have been incorporated bylooking to indicators. Although indicators will vary from project to project, they include: evidence that all required permits have been obtained and that the project complies with related laws and regulations, including guidelines for use of animals; suitable qualifications of adult sponsors, qualified scientists, and associated supervisors; description of roles and responsibilities for participants and supervisors as related to handling, using, and disposing of nonindigenous organisms; security measures to prevent non-participants from handling nonindigenous organisms; precautions during shipping and transport; evidence of suitable facilities and procedures to keep nonindigenous organisms isolated; documentation of physical, chemical, biological or environmental barriers to prevent escape or release of nonindigenous organisms; procedures for completing tasks and the project (including cleaning facilities and equipment and safely disposing of organisms, water, sediment, or other media); and an emergency plan, including procedures to terminate the project if necessary. Science in the real world Nonindigenous organismsand biological invasions are of great interest and concern to scientists, governments, and businesses throughout the United States and the world. Professional scientists take extra care to avoid introducing or spreading nonindigenous organisms because these actions increase the likelihood of biological invasions that can have significant detrimental impacts. Science and engineering fair projects can contribute significantly to our understandingof biology and ecology, including management of nonindigenous and invasive species. By incorporating concern for introducing or spreading nonindigenous species, participants gain an opportunity to practice science in the real world.


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 6 References1Jacoby, C., S. Baker, L. Waltersand K. Blyler. 2004. A primer on invasive species in coastal and marine waters. FloridaSea Grant College Program SGEB. University of FloridaElectronicData Information Source (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu) SG075. 30 pp.2Carlton, J.T. 2001. Introduced speciesin U.S. coastal waters:environmental impacts and management priorities PewOceans Commission, Arlington, Virginia. 29 pp. 3Ruiz, G.M., P.W. Fofonoff, J.T.Carlton, M.J. Wonham and A.H. Hines. 2000. Invasion of coastal marine communities in North America:apparent patterns, processes, and biases. AnnualReview of Ecology and Systematics 31: 481.4Williamson, M.and A. Fitter. 1996. The varyingsuccess of invaders. Ecology 77: 166166.5Meinesz, A., T.Belsher, T. Thibaut, B. Antolic, K.B. Mustapha,CF. Boudouresque, D. Chiaverini, F. Cinelli, J-M.Cottalorda, A. Djellouli, A. El Abed, C. Orestano, A.M. Grau, L. Ivesa, A. Jaklin, H. Langar, E. MassutiPasc ual, A.Peirano, L.Tunesi, J. de Vaugelas, N. Zavodnik andA. Zuljevic. 2001. The introduced green alga Caulerpataxifolia continues to spread in the Mediterranean. Biological Invasions 3: 201.6Jaubert, J.M., J.R.M. Chisholm, A. MinghelliRoman, M. Marchioretti, J.H. Morrowand H.T. Ripley. 2003. Re-evaluation of the extent of Caulerpataxifolia development in the northern Mediterranean using airborne spectrographic sensing. Marine Ecology Progress Series 263: 75.7HarmelinVivien, M., P. Grancour and J.G. Harmelin. 1999. Impact of Caulerpataxifolia on Mediterranean fish assemblages: a six year study. pp. 127 in: UNEP (ed) Proceedings of the workshop on invasive Caulerpa species in the Mediterranean, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 18 March 1998 UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan Marine Technical Report Series 125. UNEP, Athens, Greece. 8University of Florida, Centerfor Aquatic and Invasive Plants web site: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/seagrant/hydcirc.html http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/seagrant/hydver2.html http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/mcplnt1a.html9Protectyour waters web site: http://protectyourwaters.net/impacts.php10Pimental, D., R. Zuniga and D. Morrison. 2005. Update on the environmental and economic costsassociated with alien-invasive speciesin the United States. Ecological Economics 52: 27388.11Wilcove, D.S., D. Rothstein, J. Dubow, A. Phillips and E.Losos. Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United States. BioScience 48: 607. 12American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation web site: http://www.ppws.vt.edu/griffin/blight.html13Whirling Disease Foundation web site: http://www.whirling-disease.org/


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 7 Appendix A. Web sites to help determine the status of species. DescriptionWebsite All states http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/unitedstates/main.shtml Federal & state resources by state http://www.nbii.gov/geographic/us/state.html All states, aquatic species http://nas.er.usgs.gov All states, plants & insects http://www.invasivespecies.org Marine species http://invasions.si.edu/NIS.htm All states, aquatic invasive plants http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/aboutplants.html New England, invasive plantshttp://nbii-nin.ciesin.columbia.edu/ipane/ New England, marine specieshttp://massbay.mit.edu/exoticspecies California, aquatic species http://www.elkhornslough.org/invader.htm Northwest, invasive plants http://invader.dbs.umt.edu/default.htm


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 8 Appendix B. Risk evaluation flow chart for nonindigenous species. Yes or Not sure to Q1 or Q2 No to Q1, Q2 and Q3 Yes to Q3 No Yes or Not sure Yes Yes No or Not sure Yes No or Not sure No or Not sure No or Not sure Yes Yes or Not sure No Yes or Not sure to any of Q5Q8 No to Q5Q8 Assessing the presence of a nonindigenous organism or pathway Q1. Will the project use nonindigenous organisms? Q2. Could the organisms used carry nonindigenous diseases or parasites? Q3. Could the water, other media, or equipment used in sampling or transport carry any viable, nonindigenous biological material? Q4. Will treatment kill all nonindigenous organisms? Further assessing pathways Q5. Does the project involve viable or freshly killed organisms? Q6. Will such organisms be moved from where they are collected during the project? Q7. Will such organisms be moved through areas where they do not occur during the project? Q8. Will such organisms be held in an area where they are not currently found during the project? Assessing potential for establishment Q9. Can the organisms survive in the surrounding environment? Assessing potential to cause harm Q10. Is there evidence that the organisms can cause harm if they escape or are released into the environment? Q11. Do you have previous approval to work with the organisms in a similar way and at a similar location? Q12. Is there an approved protocol for working with the organisms? Q13. Will you essentially follow the approved protocol? Transfer organisms to clean media and container, treat all waste to kill all organisms and disinfect all equipment Minimal risk Document preventative measures to guard against unforeseen problems Minimal risk Use indigenous organisms Document preventative measures to guard against unforeseen problems Minimal risk Document preventative measures to guard against unforeseen problems Minimal risk Document preventative measures to guard against unforeseen problems A risk exists Further assess pathways A pathway is involved Some risk exists Assess potential for establishment Establishment is possible Some risk exists Assess potential to cause harm Harm is possible Some risk exists Assess management Submit the previous approval with any changes explained in detail Submit the approved protocol with any changes explained in detail Prepare a detailed plan to ensure containment of nonindigenous organisms Minimal risk Document preventative measures to guard against unforeseen problems


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 9 Appendix C. Agencies dealing with nonindigenous species (continued on next page). StateAgency ALAlabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources AKAlaska Department of Fish & Game AZArizona Game & Fish Department ARArkansas Game & Fish Commission CACalifornia Department of Fish & Game California Department of Food & Agriculture COColorado Division of Wildlife CTConnecticut Department of Environmental Protection DEDelaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control FLFlorida Department of Environmental Protection Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission GAGeorgia Department of Natural Resources HIHawaii Department of Agriculture IDIdaho Department of Fish & Game Idaho State Department of Agriculture ILIllinois Department of Natural Resources INIndiana Department of Natural Resources IAIowa Department of Natural Resources KSKansasDepartment of Wildlife & Parks KYKentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources LALouisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries MEMaine Department of Environmental Protection Maine Department of Marine Resources MDMaryland Department of Agriculture Maryland Department of Natural Resources MAMassachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management MIMichigan Department of Environmental Quality MNMinnesota Department of Natural Resources MSMississippi Department of Environmental Quality Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks MOMissouri Department of Conservation MTMontana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks NENebraska Game & Parks Commission NVNevada Department of Wildlife NHNew Hampshire Department of Fish & Game New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 10 State Agency NJNew Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife NMNew Mexico Department of Game & Fish NYNew York Department of Environmental Conservation NCNorth Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission NDNorth Dakota Game & Fish Department OHOhio Department of Natural Resources OKOklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation ORPortland State University,Center for Lakes & Reservoirs PAPennsylvaniaDepartment of Environmental Protection RIRhode Island Coastal Resources & Management Council SCSouth Carolina Department of Natural Resources SDSouth Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks TNTennessee Wildlife Resources Agency TXTexas Parks & Wildlife Department UTUtah Division of Wildlife Resources VTVermont Department of EnvironmentalProtection VAVirginia Department of Conservation & Recreation Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fish WAWashingtonDepartment of Fish & Wildlife WVWest Virginia Division of Natural Resources WIWisconsin Department of Natural Resources WYWyoming Game & Fish Department DCDistrict of Columbia Department of Health


Nonindigenous organisms in science & engineering fairs 11 Appendix D. Resources outlining safe handling of organisms in research projects. Description Resource National InvasiveSpecies Information Center management tool kit http://www.invasivespeciesinfo. gov/toolkit/main.shtml aquatic species http ://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatics/whatyou.shtml plants http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/whatyou.shtml animals http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.go v/animals/whatyou.shtml microbes http://www.invasivespeciesinfo. gov/microbes/whatyou.shtml laws & regulations http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/laws/main.shtml National Biological Information Infrastructure bestmanagement practices http://www.nbii.gov/d atainfo/bestpractices UnitedStates Fish & Wildlife hazard analysis and critical control point planning for natural resource management http://www.haccp-nrm .org/forms.asp Guidelines for biotechnology and biological control agents National Institutes of Health (NIH). Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules. http://www4.od.nih.go v/oba/rac/guidelines_02/NIH_Guidelines_Apr_02.htm. UnitedStates Departmentof Agriculture (USDA) resourc esfor biotechnology. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/ Biosafety Clearing-house, international efforts to ensure safehandlingof biological material. http://bch.biodiv.or g/resources/resources.shtml Manualfor assessing and managing risks associated withgeneticallymodified organisms. http://www.edmonds-institute.org/manual.html Traynor,P.L.,R.J.Frederick and M. Koch. 2003. Biosafety & Risk Assessment inAgricultural Biotechnology: A WorkbookforTechnical Training. Agricultural Biotechno logy Support Project (ABSP), Michigan State University. http://www.iia.msu.edu/absp/biosafety_workbook.html Traynor, P.L.,A.Dann and R. Irwin. 2001. A PracticalGuide to Containment Greenhouse Research with TransgenicPlants and Microbes. Information Systems for Biotechnology,Virg inia PolytechnicInstituteand State University. http://www.isb.vt.edu/gr eenhouse/green_man.intro.cfm Coulson, J.R.,& R.S. Soper.1989.Proto cols for theIntroduction of Biological ControlAgents in the U.S. ChapterI,pages 2-35 In: Kahn, R.P. (ed.). Plant Protection & Quarantine.VolumeIII Special Topics. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida. Cleaning of boats andgear http://www.protectyourwaters.org/