November 2020 meeting updates

Dear NEANS Panelists and ANS friends,

Please post to this page your Roundtable updates so that those not at the meeting will be able to read them and to keep the meeting summaries concise.

Thank you.

Michele L. Tremblay

7 thoughts on “November 2020 meeting updates”

  1. NEANS UPDATE: J. Pederson, MIT Sea Grant College Program

    CLIMATE CHANGES:
    On August 24, 2020 the Climate Change Working Group met and discussed the format of the working papers and agreed to prepare them for the November meeting. Alas, we have not met this goal, but will continue during the next few months to prepare our one pagers and put them not a booklet identifying issues in both marine and freshwater ecosystems.

    RAS 2019:
    We (the participants in the Southern New England RAS 2019) have submitted a paper or publication that is currently under review.

    Given the COVID-19, limits to access laboratories and offices, we have not pursued active surveys this summer in marine ecosystems.

  2. VVDEC AIS Program Updates
    – Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Vermont experienced similar restrictions as other states in the early season. Due to the hiring freeze and restrictions in travel, the Lakes and Ponds Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program was limited in completing many of the annual seasonal activities. Fortunately, the priority work continued and included awarding 50 Aquatic Nuisance Control Grants, training VT Public Access Greeters, operating the Lake Champlain Water Chestnut Management Program, and completing AIS Plant Surveys on waterbodies with known AIS infestations and on those that are at risk of introductions.
    – Thanks to Contractor’s flexibility and innovation, the State continued to spearhead water chestnut control efforts in the Lake Champlain Basin and within other lakes and ponds throughout Vermont. Though limited in the ability to hire staff, a combination of mechanical harvesting contractors, hand-pulling contractors, VTDEC staff, and a considerable number of volunteers were successful at removing plants at over 90 locations. Throughout the majority of the season, the water levels were lower than average and in drought-like conditions, but all sites were surveyed and the majority of the populations were harvested successfully.
    – Now in its third year, VTDEC continued a partnership with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps to assist with hand harvesting operations within sites that have historically large populations of water chestnut. Two crew leaders led the 5-9 crew members comprised of local crew members, volunteers, and headquarters staff.
    – VTDEC continued work assessing water chestnut populations using aerial photography (drones) to inform in-water water chestnut removal efforts and to gauge the long-term effects of the State’s water chestnut management program in Lake Champlain. This year, VTDEC worked with a contractor who used a motorboat to launch and retrieve the drones in locations that are difficult to access.
    – VTDEC and Lake Champlain Basin Program’s successful partnership to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals expanded watercraft inspection programs to over thirty-seven locations. At six of these locations, hot water decontamination equipment was also available. Greeter and Boat Stewards continue to intercept zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and look out for Hydrilla, a potential new threat.
    – Last summer, a new Water chestnut population was discovered off the shore in Sand Bar State Park and with a quick response by VTDEC and LCBP, 35 plants were hand pulled. This year, LCBP Staff took the lead and harvested only 8 plants. The area will continue to be monitored in future years.
    – This fall, VTDEC received a concerned citizen’s message that zebra mussels were observed at Lake Dunmore in central Vermont. Last year, a small population of approximately 150 mussels were found and suction harvested. While veligers have been discovered here in the past (1999), there have been no known occurrences of adult specimens or veligers since that time. VTDEC surveyed the areas where adults were found last year and the locations as identified by the citizen, and found none.

  3. The NAS database team had an eventful spring and summer working remotely.

    – NAS staff have developed a new tool that can Screen and Evaluate Invasive and Non-native Data (SEINeD). The SEINeD tool is available on the NAS webpage. It allows managers and scientists to upload datasets of aquatic species (fishes, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, or plants) with coordinates and screen them for non-native occurrences. The tool is automated and only takes a few minutes to run. After the screening, the users will have the option to share their non-native occurrence data for inclusion in the NAS database. To learn more or to try the new SEINeD tool, please go to https://nas.er.usgs.gov/seined/

    – We held seven Town-hall meetings during March and April on the integration of environmental DNA (eDNA) detections into the NAS Database. Through funding by the Community for Data Integration (CDI), the group is working to develop data standards that will allow eDNA data to be displayed alongside the NAS visual sighting data to improve early detection and rapid response efforts for the control of invasive species. Over 160 practitioners, and state and federal managers attended the virtual Town-hall meetings, including the Aquatic Nuisance Task Force Regional Panels, to discuss our goals and solicit feedback. Work is ongoing as the data products are being reviewed by larger groups of external eDNA experts to finalize the standards required for the display of eDNA data. If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint or access to one of the recorded eDNA town-hall meetings, please contact Wesley Daniel (Wdaniel@USGS.gov).

    – NAS released three Flood and Storm Tracker (FaST) maps this hurricane season (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/viewer/Flooding/). Hurricanes Sally and Delta made landfall in the Gulf Coast and Hurricane Isaias in the Mid-Atlantic. The goal of these risk assessment maps is to locate potential movement of AIS due to flood waters. We have highlighted species on the 2020 maps that are considered invasive, i.e., non-native and impactful to environments and economies, and also have high probability of movement during floods.

    1. NAS Alerts for the Northeast region in spring and summer 2020 include:

      Connecticut
      – Zebra mussel found and removed in Candlewood Lake (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1649718)

      New Hampshire
      – First Green Sunfish caught during an electrofishing survey in the Piscataquog River approx. 50 yards downstream of Lake Horace Dam (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1652393)
      – Chinese mysterysnail found in Sandogardy Pond in Glines Park, Northfield (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1649663)

      Vermont
      – Banded mysterysnail found in Silver Lake (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1651252)

      New York
      – Round Goby found in the Erie Canal at Frankfort (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1651087)
      – Freshwater Tubenose Goby found in St. Lawrence River, Lake St. Lawrence, southwest end of Nichols Hill Island (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1651344)
      – Quagga mussel found in Otsego Lake (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1652432)
      – A failed introduction of cuchia in Prospect Park [Lake], Brooklyn (https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpecimenViewer.aspx?SpecimenID=1652555)

  4. What MassDEP has done since December 2019:

    • Assessing MA waterbodies with invasive species infestation and add them to the CWA 303d List and 303b report

    • While issuing 401 Water Quality Certification to individuals/towns, providing conditions with best management practices on waterbodies with invasive species to prevent their further spread to other waterbodies

    • Update Invasive Mystery Snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis) in Massachusetts

    • Provide several invasive species prevention and control associated presentations to communities:
    Management of Invasive Common Reed Grass Phragmites australis. Connecticut Invasive Plan Working Group Virtual Symposium. October 7, 2020.
    Should Climate Change be Blamed – A Case Study of Invasive Species in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Water Resources. September 8, 2020.
    Invasion of Asian Clams to Massachusetts. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Wetlands Program. Westborough, MA. January 15, 2020

  5. New Hampshire Updates
    Prepared by Amy. P. Smagula, NHDES

    Prevention
    Prevention activities in 2020 included those related to the NH LAKES Lake Host Program. Roughly 100 public access sites had paid and volunteer staff conducting courtesy boat inspections and boater education activities. A total of 23 saves were made, counted as invasive species removed from recreational gear that was about to be transported into or away from a waterbody. The saves this year were a mix of species, including Eurasian water milfoil, fanwort, variable milfoil, Chinese mystery snail, and curly-leaf pondweed, as the more common species removed from boats and trailers.
    Education and Outreach
    Signage and educational handouts and postings were distributed around the state through the growing season, including new signage for access sites along the Connecticut River, which was part of a multi-state collaborative effort, to warn boaters about hydrilla and other invasive species in the Connecticut River system. Volunteer Weed Watchers were also trained this season, albeit through a virtual platform. Rather than live specimens sent into the laboratory, voucher specimens were switched over to digital photos emailed for species identification, which worked well, and could be a good alternative even in non-pandemic years. NHDES partnered with the state’s lakewide association (NH LAKES) to air webinars on various topics, including one on aquatic invasive species, and one on the functions and values of native aquatic plants and options for management.
    Early Detection
    Two new infestations were confirmed in New Hampshire this summer, and both of them were early detections. Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana) was identified in Long Pond in Danville, the first new fanwort infestation in several years in New Hampshire. The lake did already have variable milfoil, and a biologist who was out mapping that plant for treatment spotted the fanwort. Divers were immediately dispatched to the fanwort patch, to work to remove it before it spread. The other new infestation was in the Connecticut River, when a nearby resident found a couple of stems of flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus) growing along the New Hampshire shoreline of the river. While the infestation is not new to the river, the plant had previously only been documented along the Vermont side of the river. The same individual hand removed the plant and roots, and shared a digital image of the plant in a vase in their house as the voucher specimen for identification, and verification of removal!
    Management
    Grants were awarded to a total of 48 different groups around the state for control of aquatic invasive plants. These groups used the grant funds, in combination with local match, to fund hand harvesting, diver assisted suction harvesting, benthic barrier and/or herbicide projects to control a variety of state listed invasive species in waterbodies across the state.
    Research
    New Hampshire had previously participated (through funding and offering sample sites) in a regional and multi-state effort to evaluate eDNA techniques for Asian clam and zebra mussel. To expand eDNA work more in the region, we partnered with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) on an additional eDNA project to evaluate additional species including spiny and fish hook water fleas, hydrilla and Chinese mystery snail. This new project was funded by a Water Resources Research Center grant to Dr. Alison Watts at UNH, and field work for the project started this summer, with NHDES and UNH reaching out to states in the region to determine sample sites and collaborate on specimen sharing.
    Legislation and Regulations
    This is likely going to be a slow year for legislation and regulations due to the pandemic. The in-state standing legislative group (the Exotic Aquatic Weeds and Species Committee) and other partners are likely going to hold on proposing any legislation this year due to uncertainty related to the pandemic. Similarly, no regulatory changes are in play right now either.

  6. AIS Updates for New York State
    – Northern Snakehead confirmed in Delaware River
    – Brazilian elodea confirmed in Erie County
    – Hydrilla has made a reappearance at Creamery Pond (treated 2008) in Orange County
    – full-scale treatment of hydrilla infestation in the New Croton Reservoir is now slated to begin in 2021
    – Watercraft Inspection Stewards conducted more than 348,000 inspections and made more than 19,000 interceptions of invasive species (two of hydrilla at Lake Ontario and Lake George) in 2020
    – traffic at boat launches increased by 8%-20% this season
    – Hydrilla control efforts continue in the Croton River (Westchester County), Spencer and Kuhlman Ponds (Tioga County), Cayuga Lake, Green and Hickory Lakes (Erie County) and in the Erie Canal/Tonawanda Creek (Erie/Niagara Counties)
    – Aquatic plant surveys of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers have yielded no hydrilla (Eurasian watermilfoil and water chestnut are frequently observed)
    – DEC will be working with SUNY Stony Brook to conduct a pilot study for treatment of floating water primrose in the Peconic River (Suffolk County) in spring 2021
    – DEC is collaborating with OH, PA, MI, SePRO, and University of Hartford to test different management options for European frogbit

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