Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Exotic species in Lake Champlain.

Abstract

The Lake Champlain basin contains substantially fewer exotic species (N=48) than the Great Lakes (N>180), in part due to its isolation from commercial traffic. Exotic species have been introduced by authorized and unauthorized stocking, bait buckets, use of ornamental plants, and through the Champlain and Chambly canals that link the lake to the Hudson River, Mohawk River, Erie Canal, and the Great Lakes. Several species, such as water chestnut and zebra mussels, have had severe ecological, economic, and nuisance effects. The rate of appearance of new species increased in the 1990s, potentially as a result of increasing activity in the basin, improved water quality in the Champlain Canal, and increased sampling. Efforts to slow the introduction of new species have focused on public education and legislation to reduce bait bucket introductions and quarantine undesirable plants; however, the major remaining vector for introductions is the Champlain Canal. An estimated 20 species have entered the lake via canals, of which at least 12 used the Champlain Canal, and numerous species in the connected drainage systems could still enter via this route; some are already in the Erie Canal. Most recently (2008), the Asian clam was discovered two locks below Lake Champlain. The Lake Champlain canals also function as a conduit for exotic species exchange between the Hudson River, St. Lawrence River, and Great Lakes. The potential for future introductions could be reduced by a biological barrier on the Champlain Canal, and additional emphasis on public education.