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AIS explorer: Prioritization for watercraft inspections-A decision-support tool for aquatic invasive species management


Amy C. Kinsley
Nicholas Snellgrove
Petra Muellner
Ulrich Muellner
Meg Duhr
Nicholas B.D. Phelps



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


Journal of Environmental Management


Invasions of aquatic invasive species have caused significant economic and ecological damage to global aquatic ecosystems. Once an invasive population has established in a new habitat, eradication can be financially and logistically impossible, motivating management strategies to rely heavily upon prevention measures to reduce the introduction and spread. To be productive, on-the-ground management of aquatic invasive species requires effective decision-making surrounding the allocation of limited resources. Watercraft inspections play an important role in managing aquatic invasive species by preventing the overland transport of invasive species between waterbodies and providing education to boaters. In this study, we developed and tested an interactive web-based decision-support tool, AIS Explorer: Prioritization for Watercraft Inspections, to guide AIS managers in developing efficient watercraft inspection plans. The decision-support tool is informed by a network-based algorithm that maximized the number of inspected watercraft that move from AIS infested to uninfested lakes within and between counties in Minnesota, USA. It was iteratively built with stakeholder feedback, including consultations with county managers, beta-testing of the web-based application, and workshops to educate and train end-users. The co-development and implementation of data-driven decision support tools demonstrate how interdisciplinary methods can be used to connect science and management to support decision-making. The AIS Explorer: Prioritization for Watercraft Inspections application makes optimized research outputs accessible in multiple dynamic forms that maintain pace with discovery of new infestations and local needs. In addition, the decision support tool has supported improved and closer communication between AIS managers and researchers on this topic.


Kinsley, Amy C.; Haight, Robert G.; Snellgrove, Nicholas; Muellner, Petra; Muellner, Ulrich; Duhr, Meg; Phelps, Nicholas B.D. 2022. AIS explorer: Prioritization for watercraft inspections-A decision-support tool for aquatic invasive species management. Journal of Environmental Management. 314(6): 115037. 10 p.


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