Aquatic Nuisance Species
Stormwater Retention Ponds
Aquatic Nuisance Species
DO NOT RELEASE YOUR POND PETS & PLANTS
What are they?
Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) (also known as aquatic hitchhikers) are any living thing that does not belong in a particular aquatic ecosystem. This refers to non-native animal or plant species that have been introduced into the water body via release from captivity, plants and animals transferred from another habitat, or animal and plant matter that is nonindigenous to the local aquatic habitat. Anything that is native to a particular area is not considered a nuisance or an invasive species, within that specific area. However, when an organism is introduced, it is considered an invader and an ANS. How do they get there?
Primarily through water garden owners and hobbyists who release or dispose of water and organisms into the local environment. If you have a backyard pond and you purchase plants, fish or amphibians (i.e., newts, frogs, tadpoles) from a water garden nursery or pet store, chances are those organisms are not native to your area, and they cannot be released. Also, plants purchased from water garden nurseries can harbor eggs of species that are both aquatic and terrestrial such as snails, insects, or even amphibians. Once these eggs hatch and the animals grow, they can invade the terrestrial environment, as well as other aquatic regions and degrade those ecosystems.
ANS are also introduced to the local environment through educators releasing foreign organisms after using them as class pets, or for scientific observation.
Though this is not as common, ANS can move between waterways virtually undetected. Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) spread through the Great Lakes this way, by attaching themselves to the bottoms of boats and riding in undetected.How do they degrade ecosystems?
ANS can cause damage to native plants and animals through competition, the spread of diseases that native species cannot fight, and through consumption of native species; these processes also reduce biodiversity of our native flora and fauna. They could cause a collapse of the native ecosystem if they multiply out of control (due to lack of predators) or are successful in removing even one keystone organism from the food web.
ANS can cause adverse effects on human health via contamination of water supply. Sometimes these microscopic organisms are too small for local water treatment plants to detect or remove, so they slip through without being detected, until an outbreak occurs and people get sick.
ANS can cause problems with water treatment plants, dams, and electricity production, by getting into the equipment and causing damage or degradation to those systems too.
They can also degrade commercial and recreational equipment and conditions, which can result in more money lost from home and cottage owners’ pockets to pay the costs of repair or replacement of the damaged equipment. ANS also decrease property value and aesthetics by littering the shorelines.What can be done about them?
You should never release any plant or animal that was transferred from another wild location, or that was bought from a pet store, water garden nursery, or supply house into the local environment. Even water that held non-native species of plants or animals should never be dumped into the natural environment. This water can contain tiny eggs, or even single cells, from species that previously lived there. This can cause the same damage as releasing the organisms themselves. If you do have a water garden and you want to remove it, or if you have plants or animals that you want to get rid of, here are some ways to ethically and responsibly dispose of them:
- contact the water garden nursery where you purchased the plants/animals for advice, or possible returns
- give your items to another water gardener who will keep them
- donate your items to a local school or aquarium, being sure to let them know why it is unwise to release these organisms into the wild
- compost or place aquatic plants in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of them in the garbage, and contact a veterinarian or pet store about ethical disposal of unwanted animals
You can also help by educating people you talk to about the impacts of releasing plants/animals/water from a nursery. Let your neighbours, local school teachers and community groups, and your fellow water gardeners know about the impacts their actions have on the ecosystem. Most often, people dump water, plants, or animals without knowing that what they are doing could have serious impacts on our ecosystems. Who is responsible for ANS control?
We all are. If everyone does their part to prevent continued dumping, we can all breathe a little easier knowing that our water bodies, our native species, and our own immune systems are safe.More information:
For more information, please visit http://www.habitattitude.net, or visit our links pages for more great websites.
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Invading Species Awareness Program Canadian Nursery Landscape Association - http://www.canadanursery.com