Invasive alien species (IAS) are a leading cause of global biodiversity loss, particularly in freshwater ecosystems, costing billions annually in control measures and ecological impacts. The most efficient strategy to counter IAS is to rapidly respond to incipient invasions. Because the early detection of aquatic IAS via conventional surveillance methods can be challenging, molecular tools such as environmental DNA (eDNA) are increasingly recognized. Although recent methodological advancements have rendered eDNA analyses ready for implementation in practice, their application as a management tool is still in its infancy. The ultimate goal of this project is therefore to embed eDNA analyses as a cornerstone in a novel, prevention-orientated, region-scale framework fulfilling a much-needed coordinating role for monitoring and eradication campaigns targeting IAS. To do so, we will consider the invasion of American bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) in Flanders as a study system, and reconstruct its invasion history, determine its distribution and ecological impact, and locate areas in Belgium prone to future invasion. Finally, we will assess how the acquired information could be integrated in such a framework and illustrate its general value for emergent invasions. This project thus not only contributes to filling important knowledge gaps regarding eDNA research, but also provides considerable value for the management of bullfrogs and other aquatic IAS in Flanders.
|Effective start/end date||1/11/21 → 31/10/25|
Thematic List 2020
- Invasive species
- Data & infrastructure