Have you encountered a non-native species and wondered what to do about it? Well, now you can do your bit for the UK environment by reporting your sightings.
Defra has funded a web-based project that allows you to record your encounters with alien species.
The project is run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, National Biodiversity Network, Anglia Ruskin University and GB Non-native Species Secretariat, and focus primarily on ten of the estimated 3800 non-native species present in the UK.
The ten species were chosen for their ease of identification, invasiveness and the usefulness of any data to the recording scheme. Of most interest to fishkeepers are:
Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis – this crab inhabits rivers, tidal streams and estuaries. It has an effect on native species such as crayfish, and damages riverbanks with its burrowing nature.
Zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha – the Zebra mussel exists in canals, rivers and lakes. It outcompetes native mussels, and other species. It also alters ecosystems and can even block water pipes and affect lock gates.
American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus – found in ponds and lakes, this invasive amphibian is a voracious predator and can be a vector for chytrid fungus.
Creeping water-primrose, Ludwigia peploides – this plant species is found in still or slow-flowing waters, clogs up waterways and outcompetes native species.
Floating Pennywort, Hydrocotyle ranunculoides – like Ludwigia peploides, Floating Pennywort is encountered in still or slow-flowing waters, clogging up waterways and outcompeting native species.
Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides – shares its invasive attributes with the previous two plants.
You can read more about the project and submit your report via the Recording Invasive Species Counts (RISC) website.
Any species sightings submitted will be checked by experts; as such it is preferable that photographs are also provided with each submission.
Once verified, the data will be added to a national database and made available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.