Invasive Species

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Invasive Species was a Division B and Division C event during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. It was a trial event for Division B at the 2013 National Tournament. Previously, it was a trial event for Division C in Wisconsin under the name Invasives. The event tests participants on invasive species found on a tournament-specific invasive species list.

The official national list for the 2017 season can be found here. Note that state organizations may choose to modify this list. They should be available at the state website. A directory of state websites can be found here

The Event

In this event, competitors will have to identify invasive species and answer various questions about them. The event will often be run in station format, each usually with a photograph or physical specimen of an invasive species and a set of questions regarding it. Tests are also run as a presentation. Each team may bring one three-ring binder for reference.

Examples of questions that may be asked about specific invasive species include, but are not limited to:

  • Where is the species is native to?
  • Where has the species been introduced to or has spread to?
  • How is the species controlled?
  • How many eggs does it produce?
  • What are some similar species and how are they distinguished?
  • How does this species impact the economy and ecology of areas it invades?
  • How is this species successful?


For the 2016-17 season, teams are allowed to bring one binder of any size, with all notes contained in the rings. Resources in the binder must be secured so that no matter what its orientation (for example, if shaken), nothing falls out. Sheet protectors are allowed, and may help with flipping pages more quickly and smoother.

Although a binder is allowed for reference, some information is best committed to memory (such as scientific names, general impacts, and basic identification) so that questions may be answered quickly without needing to search for the information in the binder. The binder is best used for more specific information (such as specific control methods, life cycles, and habitats). Color pictures on separate identification pages are often useful for identifying obscure aspects of species.


Cover every species on the list. Color pictures may help with identification. The following are topics that should be included in notes:

  • Taxonomic Classification
  • Native Area
  • First Introduction (Time, Place, Method of introduction)
  • Transportation (Human and natural)
  • Identification
  • Pictures
  • Distribution Maps
  • Environmental Impact
  • Biological Impact
  • Economic Impact
  • Human Health Impact (if applicable)
  • Diet
  • Control methods

Also include general information on invasive species (e.g. about how much do invasive species cost in damage in the US each year?) and laws/regulations that have been passed to prevent them.

What are Invasive Species?

Invasive species are organisms that have been introduced into an ecosystem (an introduced or alien species) that reproduces and spreads in the environment, leading to the damage and degradation of the area's natural flora and fauna, the health of humans, and/or the economy. For example, they can be harmful to the other organisms that occupy the same ecosystem, as they will use resources and occupy niches of native organisms. This results in competition and, if the introduced species can out compete the natural organisms, the degradation of natural flora and fauna. This can in turn negatively impact human industry, resulting in economic loss.

Traits that invasive species generally have include, but are not limited to:

  • Fast growth
  • Rapid reproduction
  • High dispersal ability
  • Phenotypic plasticity (the ability to alter growth form to suit current conditions)
  • Tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions (Ecological competence)
  • Ability to live off of a wide range of food types (generalist)
  • Association with humans
  • Prior successful invasions

Humans mediate the spread of non-native species in many ways, including, but not limited to:

  • Importing plants or seeds for horticulture
  • The trade and distribution of exotic pets
  • Having the non-native species stow away in/on transport vehicles
  • May be introduced intentionally for a feeling of acclimation (e.g., American colonists imported birds and other organisms from Europe) or for economic gain (e.g., mediating the expansion of a species’ range for further harvesting)



  • The Lacey Act (1900) is the Act under which the Branch of Invasive Species conducts its activities pertaining to listing an organism as Injurious Wildlife.
  • The Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974 established a federal program to control the spread of noxious weeds. It authorized the US Secretary of Agriculture to declare plants "noxious weeds"; limit the interstate spread of such plants without a permit; and to inspect, seize, and destroy products, and quarantine areas, if necessary to contain, or limit the spread of such weeds. Was amended in 1990. Much of the Act was superseded in 2000 by the PPA.
  • The Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act Of 1990 (amended Dec. 29, 2000.) is the Act under which the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Branch of Invasive Species manages the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force and its Aquatic Nuisance Species Program.
  • The National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-332), a reauthorization and amendment of the NANPCA of 1990 (Public Law 101-646), is intended to prevent invasive species from entering inland waters through ballast water.
  • The Alien Species Prevention and Enforcement Act of 1992 makes it illegal to ship plants or animals that are covered under the Lacey Act or the Plant Protection Act through the U.S. mail.
  • On February 3, 1999, Executive Order 13112 was signed establishing the National Invasive Species Council. The Council is an inter-departmental body that helps to coordinate and ensure complementary, cost-effective Federal activities regarding invasive species.
    • Council members include: Department of Agriculture. Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, Department of the Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • The Plant Protection Act of 2000 consolidates and modernizes all major statutes pertaining to plant protection and quarantine (Federal Noxious Weed Act, Plant Quarantine Act) and permits APHIS to address all types of weed issues. It also authorized APHIS to take both emergency and extraordinary emergency actions to address incursions of noxious weeds.
  • The Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance to the State of Maryland and the State of Louisiana for a program to implement measures to eradicate or control nutria and restore marshland damaged by nutria.
  • The Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act of 2004 amends the Plant Protection Act of 2000 that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a program to provide assistance to eligible weed management entities to control or eradicate noxious weeds on public and private land.
  • The Brown Tree Snake Control and Eradication Act of 2004 addresses the control and eradication of the brown tree snake on Guam and prevents introduction of the brown tree snake to other areas of the United States.
  • The Clean Boating Act of 2008 (Jul 29, 2008) allows the EPA to develop management practices for recreational vessels to reduce effects from recreational boat discharges, such as bilgewater, graywater and deck runoff, that may spread invasive species.
  • 18 U.S. Code § 46 - Transportation of water hyacinths - prohibits interstate transportation, delivery, receipt or sales of alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides), water chestnut plants (Trapa natans), water hyacinth plants (Eichhornia crassipes), or the seeds of those plants.


State laws and regulations pertaining to invasive species may be important to know for regional and state competitions. For information on state regulations, see this directory.


See Also

Invasive Species List
Invasive Species List/Invertebrates
Invasive Species List/Aquatic Animals
Invasive Species List/Terrestrial Plants
Invasive Species List/Aquatic Plants
SHS1's SSSS Invasive Species Notes
Aquatic Animals

External Links

Official 2016 List (will be the same for 2017)
National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC)
Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin
Midwest Invasive Plant Network
Wikipedia page for Invasive Species
CABI Invasive Species Compendium
UFL Entomology Site
Global Invasive Species Database (IUCN)


Glossary of Terms
Term Definition
Acclimatization The process by which an introduced species and resulting offspring adapt to a new environment
Adjuvant An ingredient that improves the effectiveness of an herbicide, such as a wetting agent or emulsifier
Alien species See Introduced species
Best management practices A set of guidelines for managing or controlling the spread of invasive species based on tested methods
Biodiversity A term that describes the variation of species richness, ecosystem complexity, and genetic variation within a given area
Biological control (1) The control of the numbers of one organism (including invasive species) as a result of natural predation by another or others; (2) The introduction of large numbers of sterilized males of the pest species, whose matings result in the laying of infertile eggs
Biome A collection of ecosystems with similar dominant biota and climates
Biosphere The global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be termed as the zone of life on Earth
Chemical control The use of chemical agents to prevent or control invasive species, including pesticides, herbicides, etc.
Community A group of multiple populations of organisms living in a similar geographic range
Control Preventing or eliminating the spread of an already established invasive species population
Cryptogenic species A species that may or may not be indigenous to an area
Cultural control The practice of modifying the growing environment to reduce the prevalence of unwanted pests
Detection Discovering the occurrence of an invasive species at a new or previously unconfirmed location
Disturbance An event or change in the environment that alters the composition and successional status of a biological community and may deflect succession onto a new trajectory, such as a forest fire or hurricane, glaciation, agriculture, and urbanization. In general, frequent disturbance of ecosystems makes them very prone to the introduction and establishment of invasive species.
Dunnage Any packing material used to protect cargo from movement, moisture, contamination, or other damage. Dunnage such as straw and wood has sometimes served as media for species introduction in shipping.
Ecological integrity The extent to which an ecosystem has been altered by human behavior; an ecosystem with minimal impact from human activity has a high level of integrity; an ecosystem that has been substantially altered by human activity has a low level of integrity
Ecosystem The combination of a community and the surrounding abiotic factors
Endemic species See Native species
Eradication Completely removing an invasive species population from a location
Established species A non-native species with a permanent, reproducing population that is unlikely to be easily eliminated through human action or natural causes
Establishment The state of an invasive species’ population having spread over a large geographic area or has persisted for an amount of time such that control or eradication of the population is increasingly difficult, if not impossible
Exotic species See Introduced species
Fecundity The actual reproductive rate of an organism or population, measured by the number of gametes (eggs), seed set, or asexual propagules
Feral species Animals for domestic purposes which now survive and reproduce in the wild
Hybridization The production of novel genotypes, through mating between distinct species or ecotypes. Novel genotypes may be more invasive than parental genotypes.
Indigenous species See Native species
Integrated pest management A type of program focusing on the long-term prevention or suppression of invasive species by incorporating multiple control methods (including cultural, biological, chemical, mechanical, manual) in a specific manner in order to conduct the management program in a way that has the least impact on both the environment and human society
Introduced species A plant or animal species that is not originally from the area in which it usually occurs. Unlike the term “invasive species”, this term does not imply whether or not the species has detrimental effects to the environment, the economy, or human health. Many introduced species occur as a result of human activities.
Introduction The release or propagation of a non-native species to a particular location or environment
Invasibility The ease with which a habitat is invaded
Invasive species A species that is introduced to an area (an introduced or alien species) that reproduces and spreads in the environment, leading to the damage and degradation of the area's natural flora and fauna, human health, and/or the human economy
Invasivorism A movement focusing on the consumption of invasive species as food as a method of fighting them
Management Actions taken to minimize negative impacts of established invasive species populations or prevent the establishment of new invasive species
Manual control The control of invasive species by manual methods, including hand removal and the use of other small tools (e.g., axes, shovels, rakes, hoes)
Mechanical control The control of invasive species through the use of mechanical equipment, such as mowers and plows. Burning is also often categorized as mechanical control.
Mitigation The process of taking measures to lessen the severity of impacts of invasive species
Monitoring Systematic surveillance of invasive species to collect information regarding status and spread of known invasive species and the collection of data to evaluate progress and effectiveness of proposed activities
Native species A species that historically occurs naturally in an area, and has not been introduced by humans either intentionally or unintentionally
Naturalization The creation or occupation of an ecological niche by an introduced species; occurs after acclimatization
Naturalized species A species that was originally introduced from a different country, a different bioregion, or a different geographical area, but now behaves like a native species in that it maintains itself without further human intervention and now grows and reproduces in native communities
Nonnative species See Introduced species
Pathway The means by which invasive species are transported from one location and to another. There are natural, animal, and human-assisted pathways.
Penetrating oil An additive that helps an herbicide penetrate leaves or bark
Pest An animal that competes with humans by consuming or damaging food, fiber, or other materials intended for human consumption or use, such as an insect consuming a cropfield
Population A group of individuals of the same species defined by some characteristic, often geographic area
Prioritization Determining invasive species that require substantial attention, both in time and resources, based on potential negative impacts to the environment, economy and the health of citizens
Propagule pressure A composite measure of the number of individuals of a species released into a region to which they are not native. It incorporates estimates of the absolute number of individuals involved in any one release event (propagule size) and the number of discrete release events (propagule number).
Response Actions taken in reaction to detection of an invasive species. Response options vary widely but may include confirming the detection and applying mechanical, chemical or physical treatments.
Risk analysis A mechanism for identifying the potential impacts associated with introduction and spread of an invasive species. This technique also helps to define preventive measures to reduce the probability of these impacts from occurring.
Risk assessment A system of assessing the level of risk posed by an invasive species based on impacts identified through a risk analysis process. Risk assessments are a useful tool used to help prioritize invasive species for surveillance and response.
Species Often defined as the largest group of organisms where two hybrids are capable of reproducing fertile offspring
Surfactant A wetting agent (a type of adjuvant) that reduces the surface tension of a liquid, allowing it to spread easily
Trap crop A plant that attracts agricultural creatures usually insects, away from nearby crops
Weed Any plant considered undesirable in a particular situation
Glossary of Abbreviations
Abbreviation Definition
ANSTF “Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force” – an intergovernmental organization dedicated to preventing and controlling aquatic nuisance species, and implementing the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act (NANPCA) of 1990
APHIS “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Survey” – an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for protecting animal health, animal welfare, and plant health. APHIS is the lead agency for collaboration with other agencies to protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and diseases.
BLM “Bureau of Land Management” – an agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers more than 247.3 million acres of public lands in the United States
BMPs “Best Management Practices” – a set of guidelines for managing or controlling the spread of invasive species based on tested methods
BoR “Bureau of Reclamation” – a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees water resource management, specifically as it applies to the oversight and operation of the diversion, delivery, and storage projects that it has built throughout the western United States for irrigation, water supply, and attendant hydroelectric power generation
CITES “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” (a.k.a. the Washington Convention) – a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals by ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild
DAISIE “Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe” – a program that brings together experts in the aim of creating large databases of accessible information to combat invasive species in Europe
EDDMapS “Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System” – a web-based mapping system for documenting invasive species distribution in the United States
EDRR “Early Detection and Rapid Response”
FNWA “Federal Noxious Weed Act (of 1974)” – established a federal program to control the spread of noxious weeds. The United States Secretary of Agriculture was given the authority to declare plants "noxious weeds", and limit the interstate spread of such plants without a permit. Amended in 1990, and superseded in 2000 by the Plant Protection Act.
INRMP “Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan” – planning documents that allow agencies to implement landscape-level management of natural resources while coordinating with various stakeholders
IPPC “International Plant Protection Convention” – a 1951 multilateral treaty overseen by the Food and Agriculture Organization that aims to secure coordinated, effective action to prevent and to control the introduction and spread of pests of plants and plant products
MIPN “Midwest Invasive Plant Network” – aims to reduce the impacts of invasive plant species in the Midwest
MISIN “Midwest Invasive Species Information Network” – a regional data aggregation effort to develop and provide an early detection and rapid response (EDRR) resource for invasive species in the Midwest region of the United States
NANPCA “Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act” – a 1990 act that established a broad new Federal program to prevent introduction of and to control the spread of introduced aquatic nuisance species and the brown tree snake
NISC “National Invasive Species Council” – established by Executive Order (EO) 13112 to ensure that Federal programs and activities to prevent and control invasive species are coordinated, effective and efficient
NISIC “National Invasive Species Information Center” – provides information on significant invasive species in the United States
PPA “Plant Protection Act (of 2000)” – consolidates related responsibilities that were previously spread over various legislative statutes, including the Plant Quarantine Act, the Federal Plant Pest Act and the Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974