Fall 2021 MEES Issue Studies Group

Invasive Species Management in Maryland

Outcomes of an Issue Study Group offered through the Marine Estuarine and Environmental Science Program of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.


The Emerald Ash Borer is one of the invasive species studied by students in the course. Image courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Maryland encompasses a tremendous diversity of natural communities including over 1,250 rare, threatened, and endangered species of plants and animals tracked by the Maryland Natural Heritage Program. Non-native species, however, can have significant and long-lasting negative impacts on rare and declining species and communities, causing an estimated $1.3 trillion in economic damage worldwide over the last 50 years (Diagne et al. 2021, Zenni et al. 2021) and $26 billion per year in damage in North America (Crystal-Ornela et al. 2021). Further, these calculations of economic impact are likely under estimates as they only encompass the subset of invasive species for which impacts have been quantified. This issue study group explored how invasive species ecology and research informs on-the-ground management across Maryland from the mountains to the sea. Towards this goal, we spoke with a range of organizations and managers engaged in invasive species science and management around the state. The students worked with managers to develop case studies of invasive management for specific species and management briefs on an issue related to ecosystem-wide management within Maryland’s natural communities.

Through these efforts, we learned that:

  • Early detection is critical.
  • Innovative technologies (e.g., eDNA, imaging) are advancing monitoring capabilities.
  • Communication with stakeholders is key to control spread.
  • Cost of control is low during early establishment, but so is legislative will to act.
  • Unintended consequences in management need to be understood through research.
  • Restoration needs to be accomplished at the level of the entire community / ecosystem.

We thank managers of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension, and academics from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Florida, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science!

Learn more about the case studies and management briefs prepared by the course participants: