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Great Lakes Invasive Species Database

Common carp
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), Photo courtesy of NPS.

The Great Lakes Invasive Species Database includes data for five Great Lakes National Park units: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Information on invasive species in National Parks was compiled from the following databases: NPSpecies, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NPS Coastal Watershed Assessments (CWA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Criteria for including species in the Great Lakes Invasive Species Database were adapted from the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS). However, some of the data sources did not meet all of the criteria. The criteria included:

[+] Geographic criteria
Species established within the Great Lakes system (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario and connecting lakes and rivers) and neighboring wetlands and water-dominated landscapes were included in the database. Species recorded within the boundaries of the five National Parks were considered documented species. Species known to exist in the watershed of the Great Lakes Basin, but not specifically in the Great Lakes or neighboring wetlands, were not included.

[+] Aquatic criteria
Species included in the database are capable of surviving in aquatic environments (lakes, rivers, wetlands). Some terrestrial plants were included based on USDA wetland indicator status. Only those classified as obligate wetland (OBL ), facultative wetland (FACW), and facultative (FAC) were included. Plants classified as facultative upland (FACU) and upland (UPL) were not included. Invasive waterfowl and mammals that spendi a significant amount of time in the water were included.

[+] Nonindigenous criteria
Species included were considered nonindigenous within the Great Lakes basin according to the following definitions (based on Ricciardi 2006):
  1. The species appeared suddenly and had not been recorded in the basin previously
  2. It subsequently spreads within the basin
  3. Its distribution within the basin is restricted compared with native species
  4. Its global distribution is anomalously disjunct (i.e., contains widely scattered and isolated populations)
  5. Its global distribution is associated with human vectors of dispersal
  6. The basin is isolated from regions possessing the most genetically and morphologically similar species
Cryptogenic species are those that cannot be verified as native or introduced. Many cryptogenic species were included in the database as potential invaders for precautionary purposes. Some species that have expanded their range within the basin were included due to their dispersal aided by human-induced disturbance [i.e., sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) spread throughout the upper Great Lakes only after construction of the canal and lock systems linking the lakes].

[+] Established criteria
Species with a reproducing population in the Great Lakes were included in the database. Exceptions include several species of carp, which have the potential to invade the Great Lakes and become established in National Parks.


The database characterizes invasive species in two ways. The first are species documented in parks based on NPSpecies, USGS, and NPS CWAs. The second are species deemed potentially invasive because they are established in the Great Lakes system, though not yet documented in a particular national park and was compiled from all five data sources. Any species that was documented in a park or within the Great Lakes system was included as a potential invasive species for other Great Lakes parks.

Search the Marine and Great Lakes Invasive Species database.

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Last Updated: January 17, 2012