Introducing the Great Lakes Early Detection Network

The Renz lab at the UW-Madison Department of Agronomy, in collaboration with Colorado State University (CSU) and the Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN), is pleased to announce the launch of the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN). GLEDN is an invasive species early detection and warning system for the Great Lakes region developed through funding provided by the National Park Service as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Development of this network resulted from interaction with stakeholders through focus groups in 2011. Focus groups were held throughout the Great Lakes region to determine determined the needs of an early detection monitoring and warning system for our region. Results from these meetings indicated experts wanted a tool that would allow for easy online data entry and management (focusing on casual observers utilizing this resource), and the ability to create email alerts from new invasive plant reports, once verified.  The meetings also emphasized the need for networks that currently exist to share data to enhance effectiveness.

Thus the major efforts of GLEDN are to

1) Provide a tool that will allow for easy reporting of invasive populations.  This tool will target casual observers as many of the existing systems do not capture this group.  Tools to improve use by casual observers include no need to register to the site and the ability to report invasive plant location using an online map (will not need GPS units). These reports will be verified by experts.

2) Develop an online, customizable alert system. This feature will allow the user to select what species they would like to receive alerts from and what geographic area they are interested in.

3) Develop a framework for data sharing across existing systems.

Our hope is that these efforts will increase awareness of invasive species issues and facilitate rapid response and management efforts for newly reported populations of invasive plants. Below we describe how one can use GLEDN and some of the resources available.

What is GLEDN?

GLEDN is an online system that collects invasive species reports from casual observers, verifies these reports and integrates them with others networks.  The system then uses this integrated information to send customized early detection email alerts.

How do I report an invasive species?

Anyone can go to the site by visiting www.gledn.org and report an invasive plant location by simply click ing “Report an invasive species!”(Figure 1).  After filling out a few necessary pieces of information (species, location, and date) reports are queued for verification to a large network of experts.

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Figure 1. Home page of GLEDN. Note the large button in the upper right-hand corner for reporting invasive species location.

How is an observation verified?

MIPN is currently recruiting a network of experts willing to verify new invasive species reports in their area, be it state or county (yes this is customizable!). As new sightings are reported within the specified area, automated emails are sent to these experts in the area for verification.  These verifiers can also access a list of reports that need verification in the GLEDN website. If an image is uploaded experts will attempt to use this for verification, but a site visit may also be required. As you can see much of the verification will need to be done at the local level, so if you are interested in becoming a verifier, please contact us!

How are alerts created and how do I sign up for them?

Once verified, email alerts about the new sighting will be sent out to members that signup for the alert. Each person who signs up for email alerts can customize alerts by species and geographical area. For example what if you are only interested in alerts in Sauk County? You can customize the site to only send you alerts when new sightings are reported in your county and the surrounding counties. Do you want to know when kudzu is reported anywhere in Wisconsin? Set your alerts to include any report of kudzu in the entire state. Interested in an area that isn’t a state or county? Send us a shapefile for the area you manage and we’ll add it as an option (useful for CWMAs). Figure 2 is an example of what the alerts signup page looks like.

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Figure 2. My alerts page for GLEDN.  Alerts can be customized by species and location (county or state level).

Why the emphasis on sharing data?

The real power of the system happens behind the scenes. GLEDN has a number of cooperating organizations. These include the cattail volunteer monitoring project, EDDMaps, GISIN, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), iMapinvasives, MIPN, the National Institute of Invasive Species Science, New Invader Watch List, and Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS). These cooperators are all sharing data so that alerts provided through GLEDN are triggered by anyone entering data into any of these systems. So it doesn’t matter who you share your invasive species location data with as long as they are registered affiliates of GLEDN.  If interested in becoming an affiliate please contact us so we can inform you of the steps to share data. Sharing of data allows us to model and predict potential spread of these species and provide us with a better picture of invasive species and their spread in the Great Lakes Region. It is only through this kind of data sharing and cooperation that we will ever be able to get a handle on the problems caused by invasive species.

Go to http://www.gledn.org. Sign up for alerts and report invasive sightings so that the entire region can be informed.  Questions interest in further training on how to use this website?  Contact our project coordinator, Alycia Crall, at crall@wisc.edu; project staff member Brendon Panke bjpanke@wisc.edu , or principle investigator Mark Renz mrenz@wisc.edu .

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