More than 6,500 nonindigenous species are now established in the United States, and new species are still arriving. When an introduced, nonnative disease, parasite, plant, or animal begins to spread or expand its range from its point of introduction, and when the species has the potential to cause harm to the environment, the economy, or to human health, it is considered an invasive species. Research by the U.S. Geological Survey is leading to new techniques in the use of environmental DNA, or eDNA, to detect invasive species and their spread.
“The cost of invasive species impacts everyone,” said Cynthia Tam, USGS Biological Threats and Invasive Species Research Program Coordinator. “Farmers, ranchers, businesses, and local, state, tribal, territorial, and federal governments are all working to control the economic, health, and environmental threats these invaders pose. USGS science is supporting their work with science that delivers reliable information about invasive species below the waterline and, increasingly, above ground.”