Invasive Species Science


The Invasive Species Science (ISS) Branch of the Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) provides research and technical assistance relating to invasive species management concerns, including understanding how these species are introduced, identifying areas vulnerable to invasion, forecasting invasions, and developing control methods. FORT scientists are constructing models to understand and predict invasive species distribution for more effective management.

Invasive species have become the greatest environmental challenge of the 21st century in terms of economic, environmental, and human health costs. Managers of Department of the Interior and other public and private lands often rank invasive species as their top resource management problem. FORT scientists are testing control tool development and validation methods, conducting ecology and ecological impact research, and coordinating early detection efforts of invasive reptiles, including the Brown Treesnake on Guam, giant constrictor snakes in Florida, and watersnakes in California.

Control of these species is often prohibitively expensive after they have become established in that the cost of an eradication program depends upon the least capturable individual. Training partners for rapid response efforts teaches screening and risk assessment skills. These partnerships are also utilized to disseminate valuable information in an effort to reduce major ecological and economic damage and human-welfare risk.

Branch Chief


Snakes in the Wrong Places: Gordon Rodda’s Career in Invasive Species Research

When USGS research zoologist Gordon G. Rodda was a graduate student at Cornell University studying behavioral biology of alligators —or later, completing a post-doc at the Smithsonian Institute studying the social behavior of green iguanas in Venezuela or following that, as a statistics and sociobiology instructor at the University of Tennessee—he did not foresee that his professional future was in snakes. Lots of snakes, and in places they don’t belong.

Guam: Brown Treesnakes

In 1987, when Dr. Rodda was hired by Tom Fritts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work on the brown treesnake project on Guam, researcher Julie Savidge (now at Colorado State University) had just completed work identifying this snake as the perpetrator of massive losses of birds on the island....