Friday, March 5, 2021

Aquatic Invasive Species in the Great Lakes

by Frank Boles


On February 18, 2021, CMU Professor of Biology Anna Monfils and Chase Stevens, Invasive Species Coordinator for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, spoke about invasive water species. Specifically, they addressed the European frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae or EFB).

Professor Monfils, who spoke fist, talked about her research into the plant. It was introduced into Canada in the 1930s and quickly escaped from where it was being studied into the natural habitat. It has spread throughout the Great Lakes region, and is now widely found in Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Huron, as well as many inland waterways. Because much of the basic research to understand, evaluate the impact of, and ultimately control EFB has yet to be done, Professor Monfils is doing a great deal of original research. She shared her work, that is establishing the scientific foundation needed to understand the species, the impact it has, and the most effective means of control.

Professor Monfils also stressed the importance of public participation in the effort to understand EFB. Citizen scientists help track the spread of the plant. Individuals reporting EFB in various locations, often documenting the plant through photographic images that are uploaded through a smartphone app, have been essential in understanding where the plant exists and how rapidly it spreads.

Chase Stevens spoke about the Tribe’s projects to help control EFB and other invasive species that impact Tribal lands and culture. He spoke of several threats. EFB, for example, tends to grow in habitat also favored by wild rice. But this is not the only threat to traditional species employed by members of the Tribe. Green ash borers, for example, have so devastated the state’s native ash tree population that Tribal basket makers are finding it difficult to locate enough ash trees to create the raw material needed to weave baskets.

As part of the evening’s presentation, a fall exhibit created by the CMU University Library, “Big Water Creates Big Impact,” was announced. The goal of the exhibit to tell the story of how mid-Michigan has been impacted by water and water events in the words and images of those who have experienced them. The University Library encourages submissions to the exhibit by the public from March through May. To learn more about the exhibit visit

The aquatic invasive species program was jointly sponsored by the Clarke Historical Library, CMU’s University Library, and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Libraries, and was funded in part by a grant given to the University Library by the American Library Association. “Big Water Creates Big Impact” is also in part funded by a grant from the American Library Association.

To view a recording of the program please click on this link to the Panopto version or the Youtube version. To learn more about EFB visit this blog on the University Library website.