Experts generally agree that invasion by aquatic invasive species (AIS) is one of the most challenging environmental issues facing the Great Lakes basin today. In 2010, 23.6 million dollars were spent on controlling sea lamprey, one of the most well known aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes. What makes the sea lamprey and other aquatic plants, animals, and microscopic organisms that we classify as AIS, such a problem? AIS are organisms that originate elsewhere and have been artificially introduced to new habitats like the Great Lakes, where they often harm natural ecosystems, our ability to use ecosystem resources, and even human health. These ecological impacts usually result in serious economic costs. Scientists have documented many effects of AIS on ecosystems, but don’t yet fully understand these effects due to the large number of AIS already in the basin and the complex interactions among species and ecosystems. Nevertheless, it is well understood that new AIS are continually arriving in the Great Lakes and are spread via a wide range of human activities. These activities include: ballast water from commercial shipping, recreational boating, fishing, fish markets, manipulation of waterways (i.e. canals) and the aquarium and water garden trade. Since humans are a big part of this problem, they can also be part of the solution, but as with most environmental issues, the solution is complex.
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