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Past Events

The Invasive Species Centre takes considerable pride in our events which have convened national and international stakeholders on pressing topics in invasive species, reaching beyond traditional silos to bring together diverse and often non-conventional groups to engage in dialogue.


20th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS): Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Oct. 22-26, 2017)

ICAIS welcomed 204 conference participants from 17 countries, representing academia, government, business, non-profits, and media. The ISC is the secretariat for ICAIS, responsible for planning and execution of the conference. Dr. Lyn Gettys of University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants hosted ICAIS and chaired the Technical Program Committee, who developed a strong program for 2017.

ICAIS is the most comprehensive international forum to address new and emerging issues related to aquatic invasive species (AIS) providing greater access to the most current scientific information, data, advice and products pertaining to established aquatic invasive species and invasive species threats to ocean and aquatic ecosystems. Keynote plenary sessions presentations by Dr. Helen Roy (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK), Dr. David M. Lodge (Cornell University, USA), Dr. Darren Yeo Chong Jinn (National University of Singapore), and Mr. Paul Champion (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand) surveyed global action against AIS. Quality presentations in concurrent sessions covered a breadth of work and perspectives and included the review of accumulated scientific knowledge; presentation of the latest field and laboratory research; introduction of new technological developments for prevention, monitoring and control; discussion of policy and legislation; and, successful public campaigns, education and outreach strategies. Participants seek opportunities for international cooperation and collaboration to improve AIS management globally, with national, regional and local implementation and there was plenty of opportunity for networking and informal discussions during breaks, the poster session and exhibitor reception, and the Everglades field trip.

The ISC thanks partners for their continued support: Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Fund, ASI Group, Atlantium Technologies, Bruce Power, Earth Science Laboratories, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, INBO, International Joint Commission, Marrone Bio Innovations, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario Power Generation, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Trojan Technologies, University of Florida – IFAS, U.S. Army Engineer, Research and Development Laboratory, U.S. Geological Survey.



North American Envirothon
July 24th – 29th, 2016
The Envirothon Competition is North America's largest highschool environmental competition. It allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management on an international stage. The competition is centered on four testing categories: soils, aquatic ecology, forestry, and wildlife, along with a current environmental issue.

The special topic for the 2016 Envirothon series was "Invasive Species: A Challenge to the Environment, Economy, and Society". For this reason, the Invasive Species Centre was a proud sponsor and close partner of the North American Envirothon. The competition was held at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario from July 24
th-29th. The event was comprised of a day for training workshops, testing day, an invasive species real-world scenario, and a presentation day.  

If you are interested in volunteering for the North American Envirothon, please email envirothon@forestsontario.ca.

19th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species

April 10-14th, 2016

The International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS) had its genesis in 1989 when the first North American conference on aquatic invasive species was held to address the introduction and spread of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. Over the years this conference series has evolved into a comprehensive international forum for review of accumulated scientific knowledge; presentation of the latest research; introduction of new technologies for prevention, monitoring and control; discussion of policy and legislation; and showcasing public education and outreach initiatives that raise awareness of invasive species in freshwater, marine and estuarine environments.

ICAIS is an important conference series as it provides an international platform for the presentation of aquatic invasive species research, and facilitates networking among researchers that has led to collaboration on many research projects and the development of new international groups in different research areas.

This year, the 19th ICAIS was hosted by the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association, with the Invasive Species Centre providing continuity, leadership and administrative oversight as the Conference Secretariat. The conference attracted approximately 200 participants from 12 countries, representing academia, industry, all levels of government, NGOs, and others with a need to know more about the issues. Topics included the westward spread of dreissenid mussels, aquatic invasive species outreach and education, and policy drivers. 

Asian Carp Innovative Solutions Competition

University of Toronto 
March 3, 2016  

The Asian Carp Innovative Solutions Competition was developed as a platform for college, university undergraduate, and masters’ students to showcase their original ideas and designs that could be used in the prevention, control, and/or elimination of Asian carps in the Great Lakes basin. Fourteen teams from seven post-secondary institutions participated in the event, which was held at the University of Toronto Scarborough on March 5th, 2016. Teams had ten minutes to present their ideas to a panel of six expert judges from government, academia, industry, and non-profit organizations and an additional five minutes to answer questions from the judges. The judges based their decisions on; viability of solution, justification of design, innovativeness, impact and economic considerations, and presentation skills.

Thanks to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC) for their generous sponsorships, the students competed for a top prize of $3000, with second and third place prizes of $1500 and $500 respectively.   

Third place went to the “Sustainable Carp Poolers” team from Sir Sandford Fleming College. Their solution included mobile sonar acoustics to herd carp into manageable locations, where they could be easily removed and processed for fertilizer and fish flakes. They also proposed the implementation of an incentive program for anglers to remove Asian carps from the lakes.

Second place went to “CarpBusters” team from the University of Waterloo. Their solution involved biological control of Asian carps using Koi Herpesvirus 3, a highly contagious virus that would specifically target carp populations.

Jacob D’Onofrio, Mieke Hagesteijn, Jacob Stone, and Tisha Tan of the team “Operation: Carpageddon” from the University of Toronto Scarborough were awarded first place for their solution to create a non-physical carbon dioxide barrier in the Chicago Area Waterway System. This would prevent Asian carps from traveling upstream and into the Great Lakes. Their solution also included plans to sequester the carbon dioxide and recycle it, as well as placing buffering compounds to ensure there is no environmental damage.

The caliber of the ideas and presentation skills for all of the teams who participated in the competition was exceptional. Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Regional Director for Central and Arctic, Dave Burden, provided closing remarks and presented final awards to the winning teams along with representatives from the GLFC and OFAH as the event sponsors.        



Beech Bark Disease Best Management Practices Workshop

Huntsville, Ontario 
September 28 - 30, 2015 

This September, the Invasive Species Centre hosted a professionals’ workshop in Huntsville Ontario to highlight beech bark disease (BBD). Discussions and presentations held at this workshop will contribute to an Ontario focused beech bark disease best management practices (BMP) guide, currently under development. This workshop initiated collaboration between international experts on beech bark disease from academia, industry, and government. Participants from Ontario, Quebec, New York, and Michigan were in attendance.

A full day of site visits exhibited different aspects of BBD, including the killing front of the disease, experimental management plots, and sites where BBD has not yet reached, but should be managed before it arrives. Discussions focused on forest silviculture in BBD infected stands, beech resistance, the importance of beech to wildlife, and overall impacts of BBD. Later, presentations and a facilitated discussion outlined management strategies utilized by different regions, and identified the current gaps in knowledge. 

BBD has existed in North America since the 1890’s, but was only confirmed in Ontario in 1999. This workshop provided a unique opportunity for experts from regions with a long history of BBD management to share experiences with Ontario colleagues, and deliver a warning of the potential impacts of BBD if timely management strategies are not developed.

Dr. Ralph Nyland (SUNY) describing the impacts of beech bark disease at the September 2015 workshop in Huntsville Ontario, hosted by the Invasive Species Centre. Photo by Sebastien Meunier, Quebec MFFP.





Invasive Species Centre Teacher Workshops in Ontario and Prince Edward Island

October 20, 2014

Environmental education connects children with the outdoors, helping to build an attachment with nature and setting the foundations for sound environmental decision making. It also offers students the opportunity to learn about invasive species in a way that allows them to be hands-on and take a leadership role in projects that involve their communities. Environmental education lies at the heart of the Invasive Species Centre Education Strategy that aims to connect learners with knowledge and technology to prevent and reduce the spread of invasive species. In particular, the Invasive Species Centre’s Education Strategy is taking a closer look at the resources available to teachers and educators to help students learn about invasive species in their local environments and communities. 

As part of this effort, on October 20, 2014, the Invasive Species Centre provided funding for, and participated in, a workshop for 40 teachers (grades 4-12) at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, hosted by
Learning for a Sustainable Future. Teachers learned about how “transformative learning” techniques can help their students to learn about invasive species in new ways. 

On December 4, 2014, the Invasive Species Centre was also involved in a similar workshop in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where the focus was on training high school teachers on how to convey invasive species subject matter to their students, and the importance of making real-world links between invasive species and the threats they pose for locally important industries such as fisheries and aquaculture. The Invasive Species Centre took this opportunity to listen to the priorities of Islanders and to learn more about the threats posed by invasive species for sustainable seafood. 

The observations in Burlington and Charlottetown will help the Invasive Species Centre to more effectively position the complex topic of invasive species in the public eye by engaging children, youth, their families and their communities.


Forest Invasive Species Workshop

On November 10, 2014, in Sault Ste. Marie, the Invasive Species and Canadian Institute of Forestry co-hosted a full day of lectures by experts on a variety of invasive species that impact forests, including Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Long-horned Beetle, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, and others. From ecological perspectives to management implications, this workshop was an excellent opportunity to expand on existing knowledge and get up-to-date information on the most impactful invasive species affecting forestry in Ontario. 

Event Presentations and Agenda

“A Range Too Far: Managing for the Advancement of Invasive Species in Canada” Webinar Series

The Canadian Institute of Forestry, in collaboration with the Invasive Species Centre, hosted a five-week electronic lecture series on invasive species and management efforts in Ontario. The lectures covered Emerald Ash Borer detection and management, the potential spread of Mountain Pine Beetle into Ontario, the advancement of Beech Bark Disease, and management practices for Giant Hogweed. 

View the Agenda

The first lecture, Overview of Invasive Species and Management in the Great Lakes Region, was given by Invasive Species Centre Executive Director, Dilhari Fernando, on October 29, 2014. 

Watch the webinar.

View Presentation.

Invasive Species Roundtable: A Cross Sector Approach to Invasive Species

On May 1, 2014 in Gatineau, QC, the Invasive Species Centre hosted its first annual Policy Roundtable to engage senior policy makers, scientific experts, industry and conservation-minded stakeholders in sharing information and discussing priorities, best practices and approaches for addressing invasive species prevention, detection, response and control. The outcomes of this Roundtable will be used to develop a “State of Play” on invasive species in Canada to take stock of progress over the last decade and identify ways to improve how we collaboratively manage invasive species in Canada.

Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS)

The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) was commissioned by the U.S. Congress and released by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on January 6, 2014. The objective of this work was to examine ways to prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species between the Mississippi and Great Lakes basins. Further to several dozen public forums held in U.S. cities, the Invasive Species Centre organized and hosted the only Canadian information session on March 27, 2014 in Toronto, in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. The Information Session included presentations by the United States Army Corp of Engineers on the GLMRIS Report, a presentation on Asian Carp efforts by John Goss from the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, a panel discussion of the GLMRIS report with a Canadian perspective, and an update on work being done in Canada and the United States on Asian Carp.

Tabling of the Ontario Invasive Species Act Announcement

The Invasive Species Centre was pleased to stand beside the Honourable Minister David Orazietti, then-Minister of Natural Resources, on February 26, 2014, when the Government of Ontario proposed Bill 167, a comprehensive legislative package to take action against invasive species. The Invasive Species Centre endorsed the process by submitting comments on the legislation, participating in stakeholder consultations, suggesting ways that the Invasive Species Centre can support Ontario to meet its invasive species management goals, and speaking at the announcement when the legislation was tabled at Queen’s Park. 

The first of its kind in Canada, the proposed Invasive Species Act would have put in place greater oversight, steeper monetary penalties and regulatory measures to prevent and control high risk invasive species, and would have generated considerable public awareness. As a matter of procedure, Bill 167 died on the Order Paper when the Ontario general election was called in May 2014. The Invasive Species Centre remains hopeful that this legislation will be re-introduced and remains committed to working with the Government of Ontario to support the passage of this important legislation and support its implementation.
here to hear Dilhari Fernando speak on the importance of the Invasive Species Act.

National Aquatic Invasive Plants Management Workshop

On February 19-20, 2014, the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund in collaboration with the Invasive Species Centre and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, hosted a workshop on aquatic invasive species prevention and management in Ontario. The goals of the workshop were to produce practical and tangible recommendations to inform policy and management decisions related to aquatic and invasive plants, to share information, build capacity and expertise, provide advice on strategies that have been effective (or ineffective) and to help establish priorities for the future. Six themes emerged that will help resource managers focus their efforts in the coming years: importance of preventing and managing aquatic invasive plants; need for legislation; need to focus on prevention and early detection/rapid response; importance of partnerships; value of education and outreach; and, the need for adaptive management.

View Workshop Presentations



Invasive Species Centre Networking Events 
Sault Ste. Marie and Ottawa

The Invasive Species Centre aims to break down organizational silos in the invasive species community: from grassroots to boardroom. The Invasive Species Centre invited a wide range of community-based stakeholders to invasive species networking events in Ottawa and Sault Ste. Marie in November and December 2013, respectively. These events allowed participants to make new connections, reinvigorated existing relationships, and created new synergies.

Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Bike for Wildlife Event

On October 3, 2013, the Invasive Species Centre introduced the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Athletic Ambassador Angella Goran to Queen Elizabeth Public School students. On August 14, 2014, the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s National Bike for Wildlife was started when Angella Goran began her 6,000 kilometre cycle across Canada from Victoria to Halifax, raising awareness about wildlife conservation and the importance of getting outdoors to connect with nature. To commemorate Angella’s tour through Sault Ste. Marie, the Invasive Species Centre organized an opportunity for Angella to visit students at Queen Elizabeth Public School to speak about her passion for nature, wildlife and her trip across Canada on bicycle. Events such as this raise awareness among youth, and educators, to the importance of nature and to those threats such as invasive species that can reduce their enjoyment of nature. “The Sault is a centre of expertise in invasive species prevention, detection and response,” explained Invasive Species Centre executive director, Dilhari Fernando. “We want to share this exciting work with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, who are so successful at rallying Canadians to appreciate our natural heritage and our precious wildlife.”


Final Program - Post Conference PDF August 13, 2012 

Presentation Slide Decks


Tuesday, August 21

Opening Plenary

Invasion Biology – Where did it Come from, Where is it Going, and Why Don’t Some People Like it?Dr. Daniel Simberloff, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 

Current State of Terrestrial Invasive Plants in Ontario 

The Status of Invasive Plants in Ontario Dawn Bazely, Department of Biology, York University 

Review of Federal and Ontario Legislation of Terrestrial Invasive Plant Species Andrea Smith, Department of Biology, York University 

Regional Ranking Criteria for Priority Invasive Species in Ontario – Issues Related to Framework Development and Data CollectionMartha G. Scott, Invasive Species Research Institute, Algoma University 

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum): Surely We Saw that Coming? Kim Cuddington, University of Waterloo 

Invasive Indicator Species Monitoring at TRCA Terrestrial Volunteer Monitoring Program Sites: 2009-2011 ResultsTheresa McKenzie, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority 

A Silent Invasion – Genetic Contamination by Pinus peuce May Increase Disease Susceptibility of Native White PinesJohn A. McLaughlin, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 

Programs, Prevention and Potential Threats 

Lessons from Florida’s Invasive Plant Management Program in Natural Areas and Why Invasive Plant Research and Outreach is ImportantDon Schmitz, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

The Establishment of the North American Invasive Species Network (NAISN) to Enhance the Communication, Coordination and Cooperation of Invasive Species Management in an International Multi-jurisdictional EnvironmentDon Schmitz, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

Invasive Species in Mexico: Who Should Be on the List? Yolanda Barrios, Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) 

An Overview of Invasive Plants as a Threat to Plant Species at Risk in Ontario Eric Snyder, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 

Setting Strategic Priorities for Invasive Plant Management in Ontario Francine MacDonald, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 

Strategies for Development of Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) Capacity in the States and Provinces across the U.S. and Canada

Introduction to Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) – An Effective Strategy for Management of New and Emerging Invasive SpeciesRandy Westbrooks, Invasive Plant Control Inc. 

EDDMapS – Using Apps and Maps to Help Build Early Detection Networks for the Management of Invasive SpeciesChuck Bargeron, Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health, University of Georgia 

Integrating Invasive Plant Inventory into VSP Protocol and VSP Field Campaigns Danijela Puric-Mladenovic & David Bradley, Southern Science and Information Section 

The Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) Mark Renz, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Wednesday, August 22

Aggressive Control for Possible Eradication

Tipping the Balance: Is Aggressive Control of Invasive Plants Warranted? Sandy Smith, Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto 

Classical Weed Biocontrol in Canada: How do New Agents Against Emerging Invasive Species Happen?Rosemarie De Clerck-Floate, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 

Proposed Release of Hypena opulenta: A Potential Biocontrol Agent for Dog-Strangling Vine Rob Bourchier, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre 

Herbicide Use in Invasive Exotic Plant Management. A Review of Policy Regulations and Current Use, with a Focus on North AmericaViktoria Wagner, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, University of Montana 

Will Native Dogbane Beetles (Chrysochus auratus) Adapt to Dog-Strangling Vine (Vincetoxicum spp.)?Rhoda deJonge, University of Toronto 

Will Native Dogbane Beetles (Chrysochus auratus) Adapt to Dog-Strangling Vine (Vincetoxicum spp.)?Rhoda deJonge, University of Toronto 

Environmental and Ecological Impacts 

Ecological and Environmental Impacts of Invasives: Measuring Effect Size Can Reveal When Not to ActStephen Murphy, Department of Environment and Resource Studies University of Waterloo 

Scorched Earth Strategy by Invasive Alien Plants John Klironomos, Department of Biology, UBC Okanagan Campus 

Invasion and Trait Distributions in Plant Communities Brandon Schamp, Algoma University 

Interaction Between Invasive Plants and their Natural Enemies at Range Margins Peter M. Kotanen, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Mississauga 

Variation in Defensive Secondary Metabolites of Native and Non-native Lonicera Species Grown in the Common Garden: Responses to Nutrient Availability and Relationships with Herbivore ResistanceDeah Lieurance, Wright State University 

Variation in Defensive Secondary Metabolites of Native and Non-native Lonicera Species Grown in the Common Garden: Responses to Nutrient Availability and Relationships with Herbivore ResistanceDeah Lieurance, Wright State University 

Plant Invasions and Extinction Debts Benjamin Gilbert, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto 

Ongoing Control and Restoration 

Ongoing Control of Invasive Plants and Habitat Restoration Michael Irvine, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 

Butternut Hybridity Testing in Ontario – A Simple Process with Unexpected Complications John A. McLaughlin, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 

Non-target Effects of Herbicides on Native Plants and Soil Biota: The Current State of KnowledgeCara R. Nelson, University of Montana 

A Decision Support System for Invasive Species Management Edward Hanna, DSS Management Consultants Inc. 

A Five Year Review of Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica, R. frangula) Management in London, OntarioBonnie M. Bergsma, City of London 

Invasive Phragmites (Phragmites australis): Habitat Preference, Impact on Native Plants and the Benefit of Stem Cutting to Control SpreadPrabir Roy, Parks Canada