BSU hosts Feb. 19 conference on invasive species in Minnesota

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Scientists, naturalists, educators, policy makers and members from a concerned public will gather at Bemidji State University on Thursday, Feb. 19, for a workshop addressing the threat invasive species bring to Minnesota’s fabled waterways, wetlands and diverse landscapes.

The program, “Landscapes Lost: Unraveling Invasibility,” begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Beaux Arts Ballroom of Bemidji State’s upper Hobson Memorial Union. The workshop fee, which includes lunch, is $115 with advanced reservations required by Friday, Feb. 13. Continuing education credits are available at no additional cost. Space is limited to 120 attendees.

Although intended for natural resource professionals, the program is open to individuals interested in the ecology and management of invasive species in land- and water-based environments.

Minnesota’s Invasive Species Program
Species introduced or moved by human activities to a location where they do not naturally occur are often called “exotic” or “non-native.” When these species cause ecological or economic problems, they are labeled as invasive.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources initiated an Invasive Species Program to curb the spread and minimize the effect of harmful exotic species that can cause the displacement of native species in their natural communities. The effort also addresses invasive plants or animals that threaten natural resources or their use in the state.
Recent developments in ecological theory and applied resource management have led to new approaches and opportunities to slow the spread of invasive species and to minimize adverse impacts. Organizers of the conference at Bemidji State hope increased understanding of the causes and consequences of invasions at the landscape level will increase the effectiveness of management and control.

Keynote speaker
Mark Davis, the DeWitt Wallace Professor and chair of biology at Macalester College, will give the event’s keynote address at 9:15 a.m. The author of the book “Invasion Biology,” Davis will provide an up-to-date review of the science of biological invasions while also offering new insights and perspectives relating to the processes of introduction, establishment and spread of invasive species. He will also explain “invasibility,” a concept of managing a lake, river, forest or other natural resource to become as resistant as possible to invasion by undesirable species.

Davis’ book, which is currently being released by Oxford University Press, connects science with application by describing the health, economic and ecological impacts of invasive species as well as the variety of management strategies developed to mitigate harmful impacts. The book critically evaluates the approaches, findings and controversies characterizing invasion biology in recent years and suggests a variety of future research directions.

Conference agenda
Following the keynote, five concurrent morning sessions will provide common background on invasion biology, regionally important invasive species and decision-making strategies. Topics and presenters include: aquatic invasives, Chip Welling, Minnesota DNR invasive species coordinator; terrestrial invasives, Ryan Hueffmeier, University of Minnesota; management decision making, Leah Sharpe, University of Minnesota; and policy, politics and public perceptions, Susan Solarz, University of Minnesota.

Sharpe and Solarz are associated with the National Science Foundation-funded invasive species and genotypes integrative graduate education and research traineeship program recently established at the University of Minnesota. They will highlight some of the most recent developments in the management and control of invaders.

The afternoon agenda features five working groups facilitated by members of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other experts in the field of invasive species. The working groups will allow participants to explore and share approaches and experiences related to particular aspects of invasive species management.

The conference working groups will focus on:
— public outreach and education; connecting with the public and creating the bridge from information to action.
— decision making and triage involving invasive species; developing the knowledge, judgment and skills to assess risks and assign scarce resources to the problem.
— theory and modeling of invasive species; understanding current developments in the theory and modeling of invasion biology.
— terrestrial invasive species and management; identifying current and emerging problem species as well as recent approaches on prevention, monitoring, control and management.
— aquatic invasive species and management; outlining prevention, monitoring, control and management strategies for today and tomorrow.

The program will conclude with reports and final observations at 3 p.m.

A complete schedule and additional workshop information are available at

The workshop is sponsored by the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation and the Bemidji Area Natural Resources Continuing Education Consortium, which includes representation from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Chippewa National Forest, Leech Lake Division of Resource Management, Ainsworth and the Red Lake Reservation.

Proceeds from the conference will be used to fund an ongoing continuing education seminar series for area natural resource professionals.

Individuals interested in registering for the workshop or being added to the Bemidji Area Natural Resources Continuing Education Consortium mailing list should contact the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation at (218) 755-4900; toll free, (888) 738-3224; email,; or at