Using Scenarios to Assess Possible Future Impacts of Invasive Species in the Laurentian Great Lakes


T. Bruce Lauber, Richard C. Stedman, Nancy A. Connelly, Lars G Rudstam, Richard C Ready, Gregory L. Poe, David B. Bunnell, Tomas O. Hook, Marten A. Koops, Stuart A Ludsin, Edward S. Rutherford


North American Journal of Fisheries Management


The expected impacts of invasive species are key considerations in selecting policy responses to potential invasions. But predicting the impacts of invasive species is daunting, particularly in large systems threatened by multiple invasive species, such as North America's Laurentian Great Lakes. We developed and evaluated a scenario-building process that relied on an expert panel to assess possible future impacts of aquatic invasive species on recreational fishing in the Great Lakes. To maximize its usefulness to policy makers, this process was designed to be implemented relatively rapidly and considered a range of species. The expert panel developed plausible, internally consistent invasion scenarios for five aquatic invasive species, along with subjective probabilities of those scenarios. We describe these scenarios and evaluate this approach for assessing future invasive species impacts. The panel held diverse opinions about the likelihood of the scenarios, and only one scenario with impacts on sport fish species was considered likely by most of the experts. These outcomes are consistent with the literature on scenario building, which advocates for developing a range of plausible scenarios in decision-making because the uncertainty of future conditions makes the likelihood of any particular scenario low. We believe that this scenario-building approach could contribute to policy decisions about whether and how to address the possible impacts of invasive species. In this case, scenarios could allow policy makers to narrow the range of possible impacts on Great Lakes fisheries they consider and help set a research agenda for further refining invasive species predictions.



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