Home > Explore Data & Reports > Aquatic invasive species transport via trailered boats: what is being moved, who is moving it, and what can be done?


Rothlisberger, J.R., W.L. Chadderton, J. McNulty, and D.M. Lodge. 2010. Aquatic invasive species transport via trailered boats: what is being moved, who is moving it, and what can be done?. Fisheries, 35:121-132. http://dx.doi.org/10.1577/1548-8446-35.3.121

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Trailered boats have been implicated in the spread of aquatic invasive species. There has been, however, little empirical research on the type and quantity of aquatic invasive species being transported, nor on the efficacy of management interventions (e.g., inspection crews, boat washing). In a study of small-craft boats and trailers, we collected numerous aquatic and terrestrial organisms, including some species that are morphologically similar to known aquatic invasive species. Additionally, a mail survey of registered boaters (n = 944, 11% response rate) and an in-person survey of boaters in the field (n = 459, 90% response rate) both indicated that more than twothirds of boaters do not always take steps to clean their boats. Furthermore, we used a controlled experiment to learn that visual inspection and hand removal can reduce the amount of macrophytes on boats by 88% ± 5% (mean ± SE), with high-pressure washing equally as effective (83% ± 4%) and low-pressure washing less so (62% ± 3% removal rate). For removing small-bodied organisms, high-pressure washing was most effective with a 91% ± 2% removal rate; low-pressure washing and hand removal were less effective (74% ± 6% and 65% ± 4% removal rates, respectively). This research supports the widespread belief that trailered boats are an important vector in the spread of aquatic invasive species, and suggests that many boaters have not yet adopted consistent and effective boat cleaning habits. Therefore, additional management efforts may be appropriate.

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