Opportunities for Regional Collaboration and Prevention: Assessing the Risk of the Live Bait Trade as a Pathway of Invasive Species

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Anthropogenic introductions of invasive species via various trade and transport pathways have resulted in significant threats to native biodiversity, ecological services, and conservation programs. The live bait trade represents one anthropogenic pathway in which varying preventative actions may deter the introduction of aquatic invasive species. In this study, we collected 259 environmental DNA (eDNA) samples from 112 unique live bait retailers across the central United States to detect two high-priority invasive species in the ecologically and economically important Great Plains region. Additionally, we collected information on risk factors that may influence positive eDNA detections (presence of non-advertised fish species, presence of educational signage, and distance from established, high-priority, invasive populations) to evaluate current risk and preventative actions surrounding the live bait trade pathway. Out of the 100 initially assessed bait shops, 10 % tested positive for at least one invasive target species, 12 % had non-advertised species present within purchased baitfish, and 13 % displayed educational signage regarding invasive species. From a subset of repeated and new bait retailers, 11 % and 17 % tested positive, respectfully, and none had educational signage. We also found that bait retailers closer to recorded invasive species observations had a higher probability of having a positive eDNA detection, indicating that education and outreach should target invasion fronts. Our work highlights the opportunity and need for broad-scale approaches for regulations, education and outreach, and surveillance programs. Such collaborations are needed to evaluate inconsistencies in preventative actions among regions, successfully manage pathways of invasive species introductions, and better conserve natural resources.

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Biological Conservation





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