Volunteers needed in southeast Michigan to help map Michigan’s invasive species

A free training workshop is being offered in southeast Michigan for volunteers to help map invasive species in Michigan.

Michigan Sea Grant is partnering with Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Wayne County Community College District to offer a free hands-on workshop introducing the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network’s (MISIN) easy-to-use, online invasive species mapping system. It utilizes the powerful ESRI ArcGIS Server platform, but can be used without GPS or knowledge of GIS— the perfect tool for land stewards, private landowners, land conservancies, park support groups and even municipalities. The training is scheduled for Monday August 27, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Wayne County Community College District – Downriver Campus in Taylor, MI.

This activity is a great way to keep track of invasive species on your land or in your community, while helping build a better picture of the distribution of these invasives throughout the region. Location information can be entered by latitude/longitude, street address or by placing a marker directly onto a map. For more extensive invasive species surveys, data can be bulk uploaded to the MISIN database.

According to Michigan Sea Grant, the Great Lakes region is rich with life and full of native species well adapted to survival. However, since the early 1800s, many non-native plants, animals and microscopic organisms have been introduced into the Great Lakes, either accidentally or intentionally. Many of these non-native species are considered invasive, as they are free from natural predators, reproduce rapidly and aggressively compete with native species. Invasive species disrupt the food web by reducing habitat or food for native species and by preying directly upon them. Invasive species can affect property values and influence economies of water-dependent communities. They are costly to manage and have led to a severe loss of biodiversity in Michigan, the Great Lakes region and throughout the world.

Volunteer involvement is a critical component of successfully identifying, understanding and dealing with invasive species. Those interested in participating in the training and contributing to the MISIN can get find registration information on the Michigan State University Extension events link.

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