Ecological data as a resource for invasive species management in U.S. Great Lakes coastal wetlands.
The coordinated use of ecological data is critical to the proper management of invasive species in the coastal wetlands of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Researchers and government programs have been increasingly calling for the use of data in management activities to increase the likelihood of success and add transparency in decision making. Web-enabled databases have the potential to provide managers working in Great Lakes coastal wetlands with relevant data to support management decisions. To assess the potential value of these databases to managers in Laurentian Great Lakes states, we surveyed wetland managers to determine their current data usage as well as their future data interests and catalogued the online databases currently available. Surveys were disseminated via email to managers in 56 different organizations overseeing invasive species management efforts in Great Lakes coastal wetlands; 46 responses were included in this analysis. Of the survey respondents, all reported using raw biotic data for decision making, (i.e. presence of target species) but many indicated that they would prefer to incorporate a greater variety of data, as well as more complex information. Our survey found that managers used web-enabled databases, but most databases that we catalogued only provided presence data for wetland biota. We concluded that databases can provide the types of data sought by invasive species managers but have unmet potential to be integrated into responsive management processes.