Evaluation of the Champlain Canal as a current vector for invasive species


February 1, 2010 to January 31, 2012


An estimated 40% of the 48 exotic species in Lake Champlain whose invasion route is known arriaved via a canal. To manage the risk posed by the Champlain Canal, it is important to understand the nature of the risk. The goal of this project is to determine the taxon-specific risk posed by the Champlain Canal for transmitting new exotic species into Lake Champlain. Specifically, this project addresses the following objecties: (1) to broadly characterize the species community resident in a section of the canal (taxonomic diversity and species abundance) and (2) to identify species not previously found in at least one of the connected watersheds that are currently in the canal.

As of August 15, 2011, 39 fish species, 19 mollusc (snails and bivalves) species, 2 plankton species, 12 plant species, and an unidentified species of freshwater sponge have been collected. Over half of the fish species showed evidence of reproduction within the canal - either ripe adults, larvae, or young-of-the-year. The number of new species detected on each sampling date average 3.1 until the end of May 2011, with the exception of the electroshocking sampling, which collected four new fish species on September 7, 2010 and six new fish species on May 31, 2011. However, after May, only two new species were detected on three sampling dates, indicating that the number of undetected species is diminishing.


J. Ellen Marsden
Professor of Fisheries, University of Vermont
Ellen.Marsden [at] uvm.edu