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Morro Bay
Invasive Species
Action Plan
Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata) in Chorro Creek
Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan
version 11.18.2010
Non-commercial use of the contents of this plan are granted, provided users credit
the Morro Bay National Estuary Program.
This plan was prepared by the Morro Bay National Estuary Program with
funding from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Jon Hall, Project Coordinator
Morro Bay National Estuary Program
601 Embarcadero, Suite 11
Morro Bay, CA 93442
805.772.3834 x12
[email protected]
table of contents
Process of Invasion.........................................................................................5
Plan Components...........................................................................................8
Coordination ..........................................................................................11
Early Detection......................................................................................15
Rapid Response....................................................................................17
Control & Management....................................................................19
Education and Outreach....................................................................22
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
The Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan has been developed through a partnership supported by a number of organizations, agencies, individuals & university researchers.
Grateful acknowledgement goes to the original steering committee and to those
involved in subsequent efforts.
Jon Hall
Shari Sullivan
John Sayers
Daniel Bohlman
Julie Thomas
Bob Meyer
James Taylor
Pete Waldburger
Scott Steinmaus
Marc Lea
Dan Dugan
Tom Edell
Lisa Needles
Holly Sletteland
Sarah Barnard
David Chipping
Jody Olson
Morro Bay National Estuary Program
Morro Bay National Estuary Program
California State Parks
Land Conservancy of SLO
Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District
Small Wilderness Area Preserve (elfin-forest)
California Conservation Corps (CCC)
Camp SLO, California Army National Guard
California Polytechnic State University, SLO
County of SLO, Department of Agriculture
Tenera Environmental
San Luis Science & Ecosystem Alliance (SLOSEA)
Morro Coast Audubon
California State Parks
California Native Plant Society
Camp SLO, California Army National Guard
Cover: Chorro creek cape ivy invasion (©MBNEP). Inset photos cover, pages 1,5 &
8, left to right; Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) - MBNEP, European starling
(Sturnus vulgaris) -, European green crab (Carcinus maenas)
- Washington Dept. of Fish and Game American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) All photos and illustrations © MBNEP, unless otherwise noted.
Page 4 chameleon
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
The Morro Bay Estuary and its surrounding watershed is arguably one of
the most beautiful areas in California.
We have a working fishing port, rich
agricultural lands, abundant recreational opportunities, rare and important ecosystems, economically viable
oyster farms and a thriving tourist
economy. The bad news is that all of
these resources we consider essential
to the Central Coast experience could
be and indeed are being degraded by
non-native invasive species.
Invasive species are those non-native
plants, animals, insects and diseases
which cause, or are likely to cause,
significant impacts to our economy, environment or human health. The worst
part is, many of them were intentionally introduced here! For example, South
African veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina)
was originally introduced to the Central Coast as a forage crop for cattle in
sandy soils and later recommended for
erosion control (Bossard et al., 2000). It
now invades most of our coastal dune
scrub communities in and around Los
Osos. Coastal dune scrub is an assemblage of shrubby plants that create a
unique and beautiful habitat that is
essential for the survival of many different species, some of them listed as rare
and endangered. South African veldt
grass is rapidly converting this shrub
dominated ecosystem to a grassland.
If nothing is done to reverse this trend,
we may lose this unique ecosystem
and the species that depend on it
Fortunately, the Central Coast has a
diverse community of organizations,
African veldt grass (E. calycina)
agencies and concerned citizens actively engaged in tackling the problem
of invasive species. One example is
the community based non-profit Small
Wilderness Area Preserve (SWAP)
who has engaged local citizens to restore and protect a preserve containing a rare pygmy coast live oak forest.
They have successfully eliminated the
South African veldt grass described
above from most of this preserve as
well as many other invasive species,
but the struggle continues. New
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
Geographic Scope
The geographic area defined for this Action Plan is the watershed running into the Morro Bay Estuary. Made up of the sub-watersheds of
Chorro and Los Osos creeks, the Morro Bay Watershed covers approximately 48,000 acres or 75 square miles.
San Francisco
Morro Bay
Los Angeles
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
invasive species are constantly being
introduced to this area by wind, water,
animals and humans.
Efforts like the ones happening at the
Elfin Forest are occurring all over the
Central Coast. There are researchers
working on marine invasive species in
the estuary; resource managers tackling invasive fresh water fish competing with our native steelhead trout;
and agricultural inspectors fighting to
keep agricultural pests like the notorious light brown apple moth (Epiphyas
postvittana) from becoming established and impacting our local agriculture economy, and many, many more.
In 2010, to commemorate “California
Weed Awareness Day,” a group of
concerned individuals representing
the diverse interests of the Central
Coast came together to devise a new
approach to addressing the age old
problem of invasive species. The results
of that workshop have been compiled
into this “Morro Bay Invasive Species
Action Plan”.
Unfortunately, these efforts are being
done in a patch work manner and
many invasive species are slipping
through the cracks. Recognizing the
need for a more comprehensive, coordinated local effort to tackle this problem a new approach was envisioned.
American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)
Case Study 1
Jackson’s Chameleons (Chamaeleo jacksonii xantholophus) are native to
humid cool areas of Eastern Africa. In
1981 ten Jackson’s Chameleons from
the illegal pet trade escaped into
the wild in Morro Bay. Finding the
climate in Morro Bay similar to that in
their home range, the population began
breeding. The population is surviving, but it
is unclear if they will ever expand and become a problem.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
process of invasion
process of invasion
Conceptualizing invasion as a staged
process, with each species passing
from one stage to another, is helpful when identifying management
strategies. The literature on invasion
ecology varies in regards to the number and definition of stages invasive
species pass through. In this plan,
we describe an invasion progressing
through six distinct stages defining
a successful invasion (Catford et al.,
2009) (Figure 1)
The first stage of invasion (Stage 1:
Transport) involves movement of the
invasive species to a new location.
Transportation of invasive species is
often human assisted. Management
early detection/rapid response
Objective 2 (Prevention) focuses on
this stage of invasion. Stage 2 (Introduction) defines the arrival of a
species to a new location. If a species
is introduced into a favorable environment it will often go through a “lag
phase,” acclimating itself to the local
environment. This “lag phase” can
be short, or in some cases, last many
years. Once the “lag phase” is over,
the new invader will enter Stage 3,
Colonization. During colonization the
population is increasing exponentially,
often at an explosive rate. During the
introduction and colonization stages,
discovering the new invasion and
responding to it rapidly (Objective 3
& 4) offers the best chance of eradi-
control & maintenance
human health
Population Size
Carrying Capacity
stage 1
stage 3
stage 2
introduction colonization
stage 4
stage 5
stage 6
Figure 1: Stages involved in invasion related to population growth over time.
Corresponding management strategies are highlighted at the top of Figure 1.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
process of invasion
cating a species before it becomes a
problem. By Stage 4, Naturalization,
the population is well established,
making eradication very difficult.
When an invader reaches the naturalization stage, management strategies
shift to controlling that population
and, more importantly, preventing
the invader from spreading to new
areas (Objective 5). Once the invader
begins spreading to new area (Stage
5) the process begins all over again
with transport and introduction to
new areas. Stage 6 (Impact) is based
on human perceptions of how that
invader is affecting the environment,
human health or the economy. As a
result, not all invasive species necessarily reach stage 6.
The management strategies described
under Objective 1: Coordination and
Objective 6: Education and Outreach
in this plan are applicable no matter
which stage in the process an invader
is in.
Case Study 2
A native of Europe, the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) was first
found on the Pacific coast in San Francisco bay in 1989. The green crab
cannot tolerate strong wave action on the open coast, so is predominantly found in bays and estuaries. These crabs grow quickly, produce
many offspring, and are voracious predators. They have caused significant
damage to commercial soft shell clam, oyster and crab fisheries in the
Northeast portion of the United States. They may have a
similar effect upon the dungeness crab
fisheries in California. They
can also cause severe
negative impacts to
native crab and shellfish
populations. The European green crab has been
found in the Morro Bay
Estuary, but the status of
its population is unknown.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
plan components
The Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan is a watershed wide strategy to reduce the impact of invasive
species. It encompasses all taxonomic
categories of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine invasive species. To
become invasive, these species must
go through six different stages (Figure 1-page 6) including transport,
introduction, colonization, naturalization, spread and impact (Catford et
al., 2009). The different management
strategies presented in this plan were
developed to address the problem at
every stage of the invasion process.
These management strategies are
written as objectives. The objectives
are somewhat fluid, meaning they
are not mutually exclusive and there
is overlap between these categories.
This plan is comprised of six objectives with 26 action items addressing
(Table 1):
• Coordination
• Prevention
• Early Detection
• Rapid Response
• Control & Management
• Education and Outreach
This is meant to be a living document.
To allow a mechanism for easy revisions and updates there will be no
draft or final version. Rather, there will
be different versions denoted by the
date last revised. The most current version of the plan will be available on
a website in digital format at (www.
Case Study 3
Originally introduced in 1980,
the sabellid polychaete worm
(Terebrasabella heterouncinata)
from South Africa can devastate
California’s abalone aquaculture
industry. This worm infests the
shell of its host, causing slowed
growth and shell deformation,
resulting in production delays
and economic loss to growers.
By 1993 Abalone growers in
Cayucos (just north of Morro
Bay) began seeing the distinctive signs of the sabellid worm
in their abalone stock. From
there the sabellid worm spread
to a neighboring rocky intertidal
zone infesting native gastropods. A large scale effort was
launched by the local abalone
farm, California Department of
Fish and Game and teams of
volunteers to eradicate this new
pest. Over 1.5 million infested
black turban snails were removed from the shoreline area.
By eliminating the dominant
host, the sabellid worm was
successfully eradicated. This
was the first eradication of a
well-established invader in the
marine environment. This story
exemplifies early detection and
aggressive action as a way to
successfully eradicate a pest.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Morro Bay Watershed Invasive Species Action Plan Summarized
Table 1
Objective 1: Coordination
Action Items: 1A Create collaborative Invasive Species Action Network (ISAN)
1B Create central website to coordinate the ISAN
Objective 2:
Objective 3:
Objective 4:
Objective 5:
Early Detection
Rapid Response
Control and
Action Items:
Action Items:
Action Items:
Action Items:
2A Create a
“Watch List”
3A Identify monitoring approaches
4A Create a rapid
response network
5A Create list of existing invaders
2B Identify potential
3B Create list of
4B Outline rapid
response procedures
5B Categorize list by
threat level
2C Recommend
preventive practices
3C Establish a reporting center
5C Map Red Alert
2D Map “Biologically
Important Areas”
4C Watershed-wide
consultation with
permitting agencies
3D Create citizen
scientist monitoring
2E Predictive
4D Identify available resources and
resource gaps
4E Secure funding
for eradication
5D Create species
profile for Red Alert
5E Prioritize Red
Alert list for control
5F Create and implement management
plans for priority
Objective 6: Education and Outreach
Action Items: 6A Create peer network of professional communicators
6B Create reference library of resources
6C Create outreach campaign targeting general public
6D Create outreach campaign targeting specific vectors
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
Objective 1: Coordination
plan components
Coordinate Invasive Species Efforts in the Morro Bay Watershed
Discussion: Many effective programs and efforts addressing invasive species
exist in the Morro Bay Watershed. Although effective, most of these efforts
focus on a single aspect of invasive species. To achieve complete coverage
of the invasive species problem, these individual efforts must be coordinated
to achieve a set of watershed wide goals that encompass all species and all
invasion pathways.
Action 1A: Create a collaborative
network of invasive species practitioners, experts, regulators and
concerned citizens to coordinate
efforts, share information and raise
awareness of invasive species in the
Discussion: At the heart of effectively
tackling the invasive species problem
is an active network of concerned
citizens, resource managers, conservationists, government agencies and
scientists. The problem has become
so widespread, it is only by partnerships, collaborations and the participation of the community living, working
and recreating in the watershed that
measurable progress can be made. As
such, this should be the main focus to
implementing this plan.
Action 1B: Create a central web-
site to organize the “Invasive Species Action Network” and aid in
implementing the “Invasive Species
Action Plan”.
Discussion: In today’s technologically
based world, the internet is the best
avenue to coordinate and connect
people to implement a plan like this.
A successful web based hub for the
Invasive Species Action Network must
connect its members to share information; provide a geographic based
reporting center for documenting
new and existing invasions; and alert
members to newly discovered invasions.
Sacramento pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis) Photo: Freddy Otte
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 2: Prevention
Prevent new species from being introduced and existing invasions from
Discussion: Preventing invasive species introduction is the most cost-effective
strategy with the least environmental impact. It should be considered as the
first line of defense.
Action 2A: Create a “Watch List”
Action 2B: Identify potential path-
of potential invaders likely to cause
significant impacts.
ways for invasive species introduction.
Discussion: Invasive species already
introduced and causing problems in
California have the greatest likelihood
of getting transported and introduced
here. A list of invaders already present in California, showing a potential
for significant impacts, should be
screened to determine those species
that pose the greatest threat to the
Morro Bay Watershed. A list of potential invaders for each habitat type will
be compiled and a technical working
group will distill this list down to a
“Watch List.” This “Watch List” can be
used for a targeted prevention campaign as well as a way to focus Early
Detection efforts.
Discussion: With the overwhelming
number of new introductions every
year, focusing on preventing a single
species from being introduced only
captures part of the problem. While
it may be possible to keep a species
out, there will undoubtedly be many
more species introductions slipping
through the cracks. It is very difficult
to predict which species will invade
and cause significant impacts to our
local watershed. Fortunately, many
unwanted species get transported
and introduced through similar
pathways. Focusing on these pathways, or vectors, is recognized as the
most effective way to minimize the
introduction of new invaders. Many
routes of entry are specific to certain
habitat types. For example, aquatic
invaders that get introduced into the
estuary from the bottoms of boats are
probably not going to be introduced
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 2: Prevention
Prevent new species from being introduced and existing invasions from
into creek systems too small for boats
to navigate. For this reason, vectors
will be identified for each specific
habitat type.
Action 2C: Recommend preven-
tive practices to help minimize introductions of new species.
Discussion: Many invasive species
hitch a ride to new ecosystems on
unwitting carriers. Once pathways of
introduction are identified, preventive
practices can be recommended and
implemented to minimize the risk of
bringing in a new invasive species.
For example, New Zealand mud snail
(Potamopyrgus antipodarum) can enter creeks in our watershed by hitching a ride on waders of researchers
visiting other areas of the state where
this species is established. However, if
certain decontamination procedures
are taken, we can eliminate the risk
of this species coming in through
Mudflat in the Morro Bay Estuary.
that avenue. Once these preventive
practices are identified, an education
campaign will follow to make people
aware of their role in the spread of
invasive species and what they can
do to help.
Action 2D: Map “Biologically
Important Areas” in most need of
protection from invasive species.
Discussion: Sometimes knowing
where invasive species are not present is as important as knowing where
they are. In the Morro Bay Watershed,
some special areas contain intact habitat and assemblages of species not
found elsewhere. With the threats
posed by human encroachment,
habitat fragmentation and climate
change, several rare and endangered
species like the Morro shoulderband
snail (Helminthoglypta walkeriana)
and Morro manzanita (Arctostaphylos morroensis), could be pushed to
extinction from the additional stress
imposed by invasive species.
When deciding on which invasive
species and populations to control
with limited resources, consideration
must be given to protecting our most
biologically significant habitats. For
example, the highly invasive African
veldt grass (E. calycina) is rapidly converting rare dune scrub ecosystems
dominated by subshrubs and shrubs
into non-native grasslands. By completely changing the habitat structure
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 2: Prevention
Prevent new species from being introduced and existing invasions from
of this community, we may ultimately
lose many of the native plant and
animal species that evolved with this
A Technical Working Group of experts is needed to identify which
biologically significant habitats remain
and those areas should be mapped
so we can preserve them through
invasive species prevention, early
detection, rapid response and control
Action 2E: Run Predictive Models
on “Watch List” Species to Estimate
the Invasion Potential for the Morro
Bay Watershed.
have the potential to become invasive
in their area. This can be a great tool
when resources are tight.
Once a watch list is created for early
detection and prevention programs,
this same list should be screened by
modeling a species’ environmental
requirements to predict their potential
geographic distribution in the Morro
Bay Watershed and surrounding areas. By modeling these species, insight
can be gained into which species may
become problems here, and subsequently where to focus early detection efforts. Models can be parameterized and run by the local university,
California Polytechnic State University,
San Luis Obispo.
Discussion: Not all non-native species that get introduced to a new area
become invasive. Once introduced
to a new area, a species must find a
suitable environment to thrive. Additionally, it must possess the intrinsic
traits necessary to expand populations exponentially while displacing
or out-competing native species or by
capitalizing a novel niche not currently occupied by another species.
There has been much work done
to create models to predict suitable
habitats for a given species (Guisan &
Zimmerman, 2000; Phillips et al., 2006;
Stockwell et al., 1999). These models
can help resource managers make informed decisions about which species
Coastal dune scrub ecosystems like
this are rapidly being converted to
grasslands by the highly invasive African
veldt grass (E. calycina).
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 3: Early Detection
Detect new or spreading infestations at the early stages of invasion.
Discussion: Some non-native species will invariably get introduced regardless
of how efficient a prevention campaign is. It has been estimated that of all the
species that are introduced, only about 10% of those will survive past the initial
introduction. Of those 10%, only 10% will become invasive (Booth et al., 2003).
Some of these species may experience rapid population growth after the initial
introduction. Others however, have a substantial lag time between initial introduction and subsequent population growth. This is known as the “Lag Phase”
(Booth et al., 2003). After the lag phase, an invasive species population will start
to expand as it colonizes a new area. Early Detection strategies aim to detect
these species during the lag phase or the early stages of expansion. This is a crucial time. Most species are recognized as a problem later in the expansion stage
when it may already be too late for eradication. Early Detection can also be used
to discover and deal with an established species that is expanding its population
into new areas.
Action 3A: Identify approaches
to monitoring for early detection of
Discussion: Approaches to monitoring vary widely depending on the
habitat being monitored and the
species being monitored for. Some
monitoring techniques specifically
target an individual species while others focus on monitoring introduction
pathways to capture a broader suite
of new invasions. Once a “Watch List
for potential new invaders (2A)” and
“potential pathways for invasive species are identified (2B)” monitoring approaches will be identified to increase
the chances of detecting harmful
invasions early.
Action 3B: Create a list of experts
to aid in identification of new species.
Discussion: A cornerstone of any
early detection effort is the proper
identification of a newly discovered
species. In some cases, this is a simple
matter, but in other cases expert opinion is required. Taxonomists usually
have expertise only with a particular
taxonomic group, like marine invertebrates or terrestrial plants. A list of
experts in each field and their contact
information will be compiled to aid in
the identification of new species.
European green crab (Carcinus maenas) Photo: Washington Department
of Fish and Game
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 3: Early Detection
Detect new or spreading infestations at the early stages of invasion.
Action 3C: Establish a reporting
center for new species or spreading
Discussion: Currently, there is no
place the general population can
report a species that appears out of
the ordinary in the Morro Bay Watershed. When a new species is found,
it is essential to have a central place to
report that discovery. There are different approaches to dealing with this.
An easily accessed website and a central, physical reporting location where
species can be quickly assessed and
information disseminated is ideal.
about new invasions, but it creates
awareness among our local community about the ways these invasive
species are getting introduced. Citizen
Scientists can actually participate in
protecting their own watershed.
The Morro Bay Estuary Program has a
highly successful volunteer monitoring
program for collecting water quality
data throughout the watershed. The
framework from this existing program
can be expanded to include a Citizen
Science Monitoring Program for early
detection of invasive species
Action 3D: Create a monitoring
program of Citizen Scientists to aid
in early detection efforts.
Discussion: Citizen Scientists Programs are networks of volunteers
who may have no specific scientific
training but receive training from
professional biologists to collect
scientific data. The concept has been
successfully utilized to gather enormous quantities of data previously
unattainable by scientists. In addition
to gathering vital information, these
programs are great tools for outreach
and public engagement with a particular environmental threat. Not only
does this generate important data
Citizen Scientist monitoring watershed creeks.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 4: Rapid Response
Quickly and efficiently respond to new or expanding invasions.
Discussion: Rapid Response is a systematic approach to eradicating or containing
a new or spreading infestation while it is still manageable. Research has shown
that as infestation size increases, the amount of resources required for eradication also increases. After a certain threshold infestation level, eradication becomes
unlikely and the focus shifts towards that of long term management (Rejmánek &
Pitcairn, 2002). Both the system and infrastructure must be set up in advance for a
response to be rapid and efficient.
Action 4A: Create a rapid response network developing a
warning system for partners.
Discussion: The key to responding
quickly to a new invasion is communication. The right people must
be informed to mobilize an effective
effort to eradicate an invasive species. Also, partners and stakeholders
throughout the watershed need to
be informed of new invasions or an
existing infestation spreading to previously un-invaded areas. In concert
with developing a web-based system
for reporting new discoveries to aid in
early detection of species, there must
also be a component of that system
designed to alert partners about new
Action 4B: Outline rapid response
procedures (What to do and who
has responsibilities in case of invasion)
Discussion: A systematic procedure
for identifying new species, assessing
their risk and implementing actions
needed for eradication will facilitate
the quickest response possible. Time
is valuable when a new invasion
occurs. By outlining the steps to go
through before the response is actually needed, the whole procedure
will run smooth and efficient and the
response will be quick and effective.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 4: Rapid Response
Quickly and efficiently respond to new or expanding invasions.
Action 4C: Hold a watershed
wide consultation with permitting agencies (DFG,USFWS,etc.)
to expedite future rapid response
Discussion: Often the biggest hurdle
to eradicating a new species is acquiring the necessary permits. The
permitting process can be extremely
time-consuming depending on the
agency handling the permit; treatments used; habitats being worked
in; and sensitive species that may be
affected. In an attempt to make this
process more efficient, a watershed
wide consultation should be done
with the various permitting agencies
to find ways to expedite the process
into an emergency response time
line. Potential agencies for the consultation include:
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
• NOAA Fisheries
• CA Department
of Fish and Game
• California Department of
Pesticide Regulations
• Regional Water Quality
Control Board
Action 4D: Identify potential
resources or resource gaps for dealing with new invasions.
Discussion: Eradicating new or
spreading populations requires specialized resources. Depending on the
habitat, specialized tools and knowledge may be required. An audit of
current resources among Invasive
Species Action Network members will
be done regarding tools, knowledge,
skills and infrastructure applicable for
eradicating invasive species. Based on
this audit, missing critical resources for
mobilizing a rapid response will be
Action 4E: Secure a funding
source to eradicate new high risk
Discussion: In some cases a new
discovery may be deemed an exclusion pest by government agencies. In
those cases, funds may already exist
for eradication. To respond to a new
discovery that doesn’t fall into this
category, money must be on hand
to react quickly. The coordinator will
work to secure eradication support
funds. Ideally, funding will be provided as a lump sum which can be
drawn from to eradicate high priority
new invasions. A system must be created to decide how to allocate rapid
response funds. This should be a
transparent system decided upon by
a technical working group.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 5: Control and Management
Control and manage the spread and impact of established high priority
Discussion: Once a population becomes established, eradication may become infeasible. Some of these species create substantial impacts and must
be managed or controlled. Once eradication is deemed infeasible, control
and management typically involves containing an invasion by preventing
spread to new areas. This approach is very similar to an early detection and
rapid response scenario. If eradication from the whole watershed is not possible, eradication may be achieved for smaller management units like sub
watersheds. New isolated insipient populations can be eradicated while the
perimeters around existing large populations are maintained.
Action 5A: Create a list of known
invaders in the watershed
Discussion: Creating a list of nonnative species in a region is an
important first step in documenting
the current threats and impacts of
invasive species. Control and management of invasive species begins
with knowing what species are
present. Many partners in the watershed have lists of non-native species
derived from resource assessments.
These lists will be consolidated as a
starting point.
Action 5B: Categorize the list of
existing invaders by relative threat
level to the environment, economy
and human health.
Discussion: Non-native species can
negatively impact the economy, human health and natural biodiversity.
However, not all non-native species
have the same level of impact. Some
non-native species are able to survive, but have no significant impact.
Controlling these species is considered
a poor use of resources. However,
some of these non-native species are
significantly impacting our regions
resources or have the potential to do
this. These species typically expand
their populations exponentially and
are termed “invasive”.
There are different approaches to assessing an invasive species threat. The
best approach is to follow a protocol
designed to make the process of assessing and listing species objective
and systematic. A technical working
group should develop listing criteria
to provide objective, systematic assessments of invasive species threats
to the watershed. This assessment
should consider a species relative impact; invasive potential; and feasibility
of control. Once this assessment protocol is developed, it will be applied to
the list of known non-native species
created under Action 5A. The highest
level of ranking will be identified as
“Red Alert” species. These species will
be the focus for further management
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 5: Control and Management
Control and manage the spread and impact of established high priority
Action 5C: Map “Red Alert” spe-
cies distribution in the watershed.
Discussion: Once “Red Alert” species are identified, populations will be
mapped to show the extent of the
infestation This will help with determining the potential impact of the
infestation and strategizing the management approach. The mapping approach should allow for comparability
between different taxonomic groups
and different habitat types. Mapping
resolution will be selected for rapid
assessment utilizing the minimum
mapping unit to capture adequate
information for planning purposes.
has already occurred for that species
in the watershed; and what effective
management tools currently exist.
Action 5E: Prioritize “Red Alert”
species list for control.
Discussion: With limited resources,
not all species categorized as “Red
Alert” can be controlled. The list must
be prioritized to decide where to
focus these resources. Existing control
programs will likely factor into this listing, as will species impacts to public
trust resources, the economy or human health.
Action 5D: For “Red Alert” Spe-
cies Identify Biology; Ecosystems
Infested; Introduction Pathways
and Method of Spread; Effective
Management Tools; and History of
Management in the Watershed.
Discussion: To effectively manage
an invasive species a lot of information must be considered. Information
should be obtained on how that species is spreading; the seasonal phenology of the species; how that species
effects our local economy or human
health; how that species affects native species and ecosystems; what is
making the ecosystem susceptible to
invasion; what kind of management
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 5: Control and Management
Control and manage the spread and impact of established high priority
Action 5F: Create and implement
control/management plans for
high priority “Red Alert” species.
Discussion: Any species control
should happen under a formal
management plan. The management
plan should include a description of
the general approach, a time line for
control based on the seasonal phenology, methods to be used, maps
of populations or areas targeted for
control, partners that will be involved,
and permits needed.
Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, jubatagrass (Cortaderia jubata) has
escaped from cultivation and is creating problems throughout the coast of California. Recognizing this threat, the local San Luis Obispo Weed Management Area
has been working to eradicate this plant from the chain of mountains known as
the Morros Range.
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 6: Education and Outreach
Discussion: Education and outreach
efforts factor into every aspect of the
invasive species problem. Behavioral
change in the individuals contributing
to the spread of invasive species is only
possible when that community understands the potential impacts, their role
in the problem and what can be done
to help.
Action 6A: Create a peer network
of professional communicators
focused on the issue of invasive
Discussion: A Technical Working
Group of Professional Communicators should be formed to guide the
invasive species outreach effort. This
network can review new materials
created; provide input on which existing projects have proven successful
and document lessons learned from
less effective projects.
Action 6B: Create a reference
library of resources to aid the invasive species education and outreach campaign.
Discussion: One of the barriers to
creating effective outreach materials
is a lack of available, copyright-free images and outreach material to employ
in messaging efforts. An on-line “catalog” will be created as a repository
for education and outreach material
which can be used by partners and
others. The “catalog” should include
clear licensing and usage requirements and be hosted in a commonly
used or very simple to use format. This
“catalog” should be maintained and
continually updated as new materials
are presented.
Action 6C: Create an outreach
campaign to raise awareness of the
invasive species problem with the
general public.
Discussion: Poor understanding of
invasive species among the public
provides significant opportunities for
inadvertent species transportation,
most commonly through recreational
pursuits such as boating.
Behavioral changes typically happen
through education. To increase public
interest in addressing this problem,
general awareness of residents and
visitors must be raised. Communication with the public should be prePage 22
Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
plan components
Objective 6: Education and Outreach
sented through a consistent, prioritized principal message employing
a variety of outreach methods and
Action 6D: Create an outreach
campaign targeting specific vectors identified under OBJECTIVE 2:
Discussion: For each vector and
pathway for invasion that is identified,
an outreach campaign should be
created to specifically target those risk
factors. Techniques will vary widely
depending on the risk factor and the
audience targeted. This is best handled by professional educators and
communicators who can accurately
identify the audience and craft a communications strategy to effectively
reach those individuals. These efforts
will be a much more targeted campaign than the generalized effort to
reach the average citizen described in
Action 6C and may involve pre-project surveys, focus groups and other
traditional social marketing tools.
Every effort should also be made to
measure audience response and rate
of behavior change in order to evaluate effectiveness of the campaigns. 6
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Morro Bay Invasive Species Action Plan •
Booth, B. D., S. D. Murphy & Swanton, C. J. (2003). Weed Ecology in Natural
and Agricultural Systems. Cambridge, MA: CABI Publishing.
Bossard, C. C., J. M. Randall & Hoshovsky, M. C. (2000). Invasive plants of
California’s wildlands. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
Catford, J.A., Jansson, R. & Nilsson C. (2009). Reducing redundancy in invasion ecology by integrating hypothesis into a single theoretical framework.
Diversity and Distributions, 15: 22-40.
Guisan, A. & Zimmerman, N.E. (2000). Predictive habitat distribution
models in ecology. Ecol. Model. 135: 147–186.
Phillips, S.J., Anderson, R.P. & Schapire, R.E. (2006). Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecol. Model. 190: 231-259.
Rejmánek, M. & Pitcairn, M.J. (2002). When is eradication of exotic pest plants
a realistic goal? Proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of
Island Invasives.
Stockwell, D. & Peters, D. (1999). The GARP modeling system: problems
and solutions to automated spatial prediction. Int. J. Geograph.
Inform. Sci. 13: 143–158.
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