GLANSIS is a NOAA-led, interagency, Great Lakes-specific database for Aquatic Nonindigenous Species (ANS)
The Great Lakes are one of the most heavily invaded aquatic systems in the world, and while some aquatic nonindigenous species (ANS) have had benign or beneficial impacts, others threaten the economy, the environment, or human health and are thus referred to as "invasive". Protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, regional economy, and community well-being from ANS requires effective prevention, early detection, and rapid response, management, and control efforts, which in turn depend upon the quantity and quality of accessible information. GLANSIS serves as the Great Lakes' "one-stop shop" that centralizes and synthesizes the best available information to support effective management and control strategies that limit the introduction, spread, and impact of ANS in the Great Lakes.
As of 2019, over 180 nonindigenous species have been reported to have reproducing populations in the Great Lakes basin, including lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair, Erie, Ontario, their connecting channels, and water bodies within their respective drainages. The number of Great Lakes aquatic nonindigenous species documented in GLANSIS must be interpreted as a minimum. Identification depends on our ability to find, recognize, verify, and document new species, which in turn relies on our ability to adequately sample the Great Lakes ecosystem. The most recent ANS reported and verified as overwintering and reproducing in the Great Lakes basin is Mesocyclops pehpeiensis.
GLANSIS functions as a Great Lakes-specific node of the USGS NAS (Nonindigenous Aquatic Species) national database. Information entered for GLANSIS automatically appears in NAS and vice versa, though we maintain overlapping species lists. GLANSIS provides targeted access to the information – especially collection records – for established Great Lakes nonindigenous species in the NAS Database. GLANSIS provides additional information on risk assessment, management, and control exclusive to the Great Lakes that are not served by NAS.
Additional information on aquatic invasive species related to the Great Lakes region that are not included in GLANSIS, such as species which have been reported but not established, failed introductions, cryptogenic species for which evidence is considered insufficient, and species native to the Great Lakes which have invaded other regions of the U.S. may be available through USGS NAS.
While working at GLERL in 2002, Dr. Dave Reid identified a need for a comprehensive database of aquatic nonindigenous species in the Great Lakes. Dr. David Raikow was hired as a post-doctoral research biologist in November 2003 and assigned to develop the GLANSIS database under Dr. Reid's guidance through September 2006. Initial support for the development of the database came from NOAA-GLERL and the NOAA Invasive Species Program.
The USGS NAS National Database had already been developed and included a number of Great Lakes species, so the GLANSIS team established a partnership with Pam Fuller of USGS that allowed access to the NAS database platform. Together they established protocols that enabled GLANSIS researchers to modify, update, and expand the Great Lakes species on the NAS platform. This allowed for a seamless interconnection of inland lake and stream data collected and managed by USGS, with the Great Lakes and connecting channel data collected and managed by NOAA. A separate database portal was then established on the GLERL website to exclusively serve Great Lakes species information. In this way, GLANSIS functions as a Great Lakes-specific node of the USGS NAS (Nonindigenous Aquatic Species) national database. Information entered for GLANSIS automatically appears in NAS and vice versa, though we maintain overlapping species lists.
In addition to adding or verifying basic data entries, detailed species profiles were either edited and updated (for those already on the NAS database) or created after extensive literature reviews. The initial database of 139 species was created from a list published in Mills et al (1991). Some of these species were already included in the NAS database, but many were not, and the NAS holdings were subsequently expanded to include those not listed. Erin Maynard, Dr. Raikow's research assistant, other GLERL researchers, and student support also made substantial contributions to data entry and species profile development (see our staff listing at the bottom of this page), and many additional students have contributed as the database has grown to its current listing of 187 established nonindigenous species. Dr. Anthony Ricciardi chaired the original GLANSIS 'Blue Ribbon Panel' that provided external review for the lists and profiles. Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant, GLERL's regional Sea Grant outreach specialist, joined the project team in 2004 to pave the rollout of the website and public portal along with conducting outreach. She also provided research support for development and updates of many of the species profiles.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), managed by EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office, provided funding for the expansion of GLANSIS in 2010-2012. With Dave Reid's retirement in 2010, Dr. Ed Rutherford served as GLERL Principal Investigator and Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant served as interim program manager until Dr. Abigail Fusaro joined the team as a postdoctoral fellow and program manager. Emily Baker, a master's student at the University of Michigan, conducted the literature review and assessment that led to the creation of the original GLANSIS watchlist in 2010. This period also included increased formalization of the profile structure, addition of consistent semi-quantitative assessments of impact, risk assessments for watchlist species, and the addition of information on regulation and control.
Dr. Fusaro departed from GLANSIS in 2015, and Dr. Ed Rutherford (NOAA GLERL), Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant (Sea Grant at GLERL) and Dr. Felix Martinez (NOAA NOS at GLERL) shared responsibilities for interim program management. Many students and volunteers contributed extensively to the maintenance of the database, including updates of profiles and maps during this interim period. Dr. Abigail Fusaro, Dr. Alisha Dahlstrom, and Dr. Donna Kashian, all at Wayne State University, were significant partners in our accomplishments through this period.
GLANSIS has again received GLRI funding (2016-present), allowing for the reinvigoration of the GLANSIS program and development of new products to better serve the information needs of the region. GLANSIS now has a formal Executive Committee comprised of several NOAA Principal Investigators. As of January 2018, Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant has become the GLANSIS Program Manager, and El Lower is serving as a full-time Research Associate. The Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species (and its subcommittees) are advising the GLANSIS Executive Committee on regional information needs. Additional partners critical to the expansion of GLANSIS have included Michigan Sea Grant, the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR), the University of Michigan Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework (GLAHF) and the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species.
Mills, E.L., Leach, J.H., Carlton, J.T., and Secor, C.L. (1993) Exotic Species in the Great Lakes: A History of Biotic Crises and Anthropogenic Introductions. J.Great Lakes Res. 19(1) 1-54.
Ricciardi, A. and J.B. Rasmussen. (1998) Predicting the identity and impact of future biological invaders: a priority for aquatic resource management. Can. J. Aquat. Sci. 55:1759-1765.
Ricciardi, A. 2001. Facilitative interactions among aquatic invaders: is an "invasional meltdown" occurring in the Great Lakes? Can. J. Aquat. Sci. 58:2513-2525.
Ricciardi, A. 2006. Patterns of invasion in the Laurentian Great Lakes in relation to changes in vector activity. Diversity Distrib. 12:425-433.
GLANSIS Program Manager and AIS Outreach
Michigan Sea Grant
Research Fishery Biologist
Doran M. Mason
Michigan Sea Grant
Michigan Sea Grant
Michigan Sea Grant