The first step in MAISRC's Research Needs Assessment is to update our list of 40, high-priority species. This is done by our Technical Committee on a yearly basis. The updated list is referenced when we send out our Research Needs Assessment survey to the public. The survey itself is an online format and is open to the public. Participants are asked to rank the species they are most concerned about in Minnesota from the priority list. They are also asked to suggest lines of future research on aquatic invasive species. In 2020, we received over 700 survey responses.
When the survey closes, MAISRC's administrative staff consolidate the information. We group similar research suggestions and break them into plants, invertebrate, vertebrate, microbe, and cross cutting sections. In normal years, we then host a one-day, in-person workshop with a select group of staff, researchers, and stakeholders. Experts from each topic are grouped together in the first round of discussion (plant experts work on the plant research topics). The specialized groups work to rank their list of research topics in order of highest priority and potential to provide significant impacts or to fill data gaps to prevent, control and manage AIS in Minnesota. However, in 2020, this step happened via Zoom.
In the second round of discussion (also via Zoom), the groups are shuffled to have an expert from each category per group. The jigsaw groups work to identify the top 15-20 research needs from the full list of research suggestions. The lists from each group are consolidated by MAISRC staff and a final list of 15-20 research needs is established. The last step is a full group discussion. This is a last chance for individuals to advocate for lower ranking needs to be bumped up.
At the end of the process, MAISRC has roughly 20 high-quality research needs that can be sent out in the request for proposals.
2021 Research Priorities (applications closed)
Proposals for research on the following topics will be considered for funding. Like AIS problems in general, these problems are complex. To be effectively addressed, many of these topics will benefit from innovative research approaches, research scope spanning fundamental and applied, and/or multidisciplinary expertise. The topics are not listed in priority order. If not specifically addressed below, the species studied must be included on the MAISRC 2020 priority species list. Research not focused on addressing one of the following priorities will not be considered for funding.
A: Early detection and preventing the establishment of priority species
- Develop, optimize, and validate field-based diagnostic assays for the rapid detection of high priority harmful microbes. Assays should be useable by technical experts (i.e., diagnostic laboratories) and non-experts (i.e., citizen scientists, aquaculture producers).
- Characterize and quantify high-risk and poorly understood pathways of AIS spread into and within Minnesota, such as non-transient boat movement, water-related equipment, aquarium trade, etc. to prioritize AIS prevention, education, inspection and enforcement activities.
- Investigate the efficacy and practicality of non-physical barriers and deterrent technologies at strategic field locations to reduce movement of bighead carp, grass carp, silver carp, common carp, black carp, and northern snakehead in small and large waterways.
- Experimentally and observationally measure effectiveness of prevention methods and boater education activities at changing behavior and preventing spread of AIS.
- Develop, optimize, and test novel methods for efficacious disinfection of fomites and/or fish eggs for priority AIS harmful microbes in aquaculture, commercial fishing, and recreational settings.
B: Creating and improving options for control of priority species
- Building on past research advancements for common carp management, develop a strategy to deploy usable tools/approaches to be implemented by managers and private entities. Where necessary, refine tools/approaches, or integration of multiple tools/approaches, to improve adoption by end-users.
- Develop an environmental risk assessment for the use of pathogenic or genetic biological control strategies for high priority AIS in Minnesota. Risk assessment should include metrics that will inform and describe the potential effects on rare resources (such as endangered and threatened species), water resources, wildlife populations, and other natural resources. This assessment could act as a scoping or reference document for use in future environmental review processes.
- Assess the prevalence of high priority AIS throughout Minnesota with probabilistic sampling to better inform early detection, prevention, and rapid response efforts.
- Generate lake-specific predictions of suitability of Minnesota lakes for AIS under future climate scenarios, including (1) potentially high impact species that are in the live trade business that are currently limited by climate, and (2) established species that are likely to spread or contract their range and local abundance.
- Develop and evaluate effective removal methodologies for rusty crayfish, particularly in ecosystems where high population densities are noted and impacts to specific native plant populations, such as wild rice, are possible.
- Develop innovative control technologies for established AIS populations, with an emphasis on environmentally safe and cost-effective biochemical products or genetic approaches. Proof of concept and early stage research is encouraged.
C: Understanding impacts to prioritize management actions
- Evaluate the effects of high priority AIS and AIS management on wild rice under current and future climate scenarios.
- Study the reproductive biology of starry stonewort to understand how management might be used to disrupt life cycles and deplete propagule banks.
- Determine the presence and/or prevalence of novel/emerging baitfish pathogens in Minnesota's wild, farmed and retail baitfish populations to inform risk-based management.
- Quantify short and long term impacts and benefits of herbicides (Endothall and Diquat) and pesticides (copper) on non-target organisms including fish, invertebrates, and native plant communities in natural systems.
- Determine to what extent common carp removal and re-establishment of macrophytes increases atmospheric carbon sequestration in sediments of shallow lakes.
- Investigate if temporal or short-term reductions in faucet snail abundance can reduce/eliminate waterfowl mortality in Minnesota lakes.
- Evaluate the economic impact of priority AIS introductions under current and future climate scenarios on property values, business and tourism, and/or subsistence use over time to inform cost-benefit analyses, communication efforts, and management decisions.