Over 180 non-native species have been introduced into the Great Lakes region. Some of these species such as the zebra mussel, Eurasian watermilfoil and silver carp have flourished and negatively impacted both our environment and economy. Even more aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as these lurk on the horizon as threats to Lake Michigan and the inland waters of both Illinois and Indiana.

AIS can be introduced and spread through a variety of activities including those associated with recreational water users, water gardeners, aquarium hobbyists, and nursery tradespeople. For example, when an angler releases bait fish at the end of a day’s fishing or a water gardener disposes of excess plants in a local waterway, they could also be accidentally introducing AIS. IISG works with these groups to provide the tools they need to avoid AIS-risky behaviors.



Be a Hero-Release Zero ™
Be a Hero – Release Zero is an Illinois program that gives gardeners and pet owners the information they need to help prevent the spread of AIS.

Be a Hero-Transport Zero ™
Be a Hero – Transport Zero is an Illinois program that gives recreational water users the information they need to help prevent the spread of AIS.

Organisms in Trade 
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) can be introduced into new water bodies through a pathway known as organisms in trade (OIT). This pathway includes aquarium release, water garden escape, study organism release, live food and aquaculture release, and live bait.

Many aquatic invasive species have spread to the Great Lakes through recreational water use. Once established, these invaders hinder boating and swimming, disrupt food webs, and harm local economies.  Fortunately, boater, anglers, and others can help prevent the spread of AIS.

Asian Carp
The latest information on Asian carp includes how to identify, catch, clean and cook the fish and protect yourself while boating through Asian carp-infested waters.

Aquatic Plants in Trade
Through a science-based assessment of risk, best management practices and outreach, IISG is working to help reduce the introduction of invasive aquatic plants to our waters.

Illinois Aquatic Nuisance Species
This web site provides “one-stop shopping” for Illinois residents seeking information on AIS including links to AIS regulations and “hot” topics, and an on-line reporting form for AIS sightings

Nab the Aquatic Invader!
This educational web site introduces students (grades 4-10) to marine and freshwater invasive species and their impacts through colorful cartoon characters.

Safe Disposal of Classroom Specimens
Classroom specimens can end up part of the invasive species problem. With more information, schools and suppliers can be part of the solution.

Research Projects

Alteration of nutrient cycling and food web structure by profundal quagga mussels in Lake Michigan
Harvey Bootsma, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Impacts of invasive Asian carp on native food webs
Jonathan Freedman, Illinois Natural History Survey

Ecological genetics of Phragmites australis invasive in southern Lake Michigan coastal habitats
Daniel Larkin, Chicago Botanic Garden

More AIS research projects


Zebra Mussel Educational Video Series
AIS Temporary Tattoos
Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Before-and-After Launch Sign 
Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! 
Boat Cleaning Sign
Don't Dump Bait Poster 

Asian Carp Cuisine

More AIS products || Additional products in AIS Education

Web Links

Asian Carp Management
Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida
Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System
Nonindigenous Aquatic Species, U.S. Geological Survey
Protect Your Waters: Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
Sea Grant Ocean Sciences Education Center


Pat Charlebois
Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator

Danielle Hilbrich
Aquatic Invasive Species Outreach Assistant

Greg Hitzroth
Aquatic Invasive Species Outreach Specialist

Sarah Zack
Aquatic Invasive Species Outreach Specialist

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
University of Illinois
1101 W. Peabody Drive
374 National Soybean Research Center, MC-635
Urbana, IL 61801
Ph: 217.333.6444 | Fax: 217.333.8046
University of Illinois Extensio
Sea Grant
Purdue University