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Medical Fight Against Cancer May Hold Lessons for Battling Aquatic Invasive Species

Medical Fight Against Cancer May Hold Lessons for Battling Aquatic Invasive Species

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Lessons learned from the medical community’s progress in fighting cancer can provide a framework to help prevent the introduction and spread of harmful aquatic invasive species, according to a study released in American Scientist. 

With more than 6,500 harmful non-native species causing more than 100 billion dollars in economic damage each year in the United States, more effective methods of confronting them are essential. 

In the study, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center outline five integrated steps used in cancer prevention and treatment that could be adapted to use in battling invasive species:  prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment options and rehabilitation.  

“Medicine often finds inspiration from the natural world, so it is perhaps no surprise that scientists now look to medical science to find new strategies to help the natural world in the epic battle against invasive species,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Just as we have learned that preventing disease through regular check-ups is the most cost-effective route to good health, we all should be well informed on how to avoid the unintended introduction of invasive species in order to avoid costly eradication programs.” 

Although aquatic invasive species are a leading threat to native fish species worldwide, resource managers and conservation biologists still rely on control methods developed more than 75 years ago.  The authors propose that a coordinated, research-based approach similar to the medical community’s response to cancer is needed to develop more effective tools to prevent and mitigate aquatic invasive species.   

The authors noted that the medical community’s response to cancer is based on the idea that multiple tools are needed for each type of cancer because the same type of cancer can be expressed differently in individuals. Each person varies in how easily their cancer can be detected and in how they respond to treatment methods. 

“The interaction of invasive species with physical habitat and biotic community is similar  –   the impacts and the effectiveness of detection and treatment methods are context-dependent,” said Adam Sepulveda, a USGS scientist and lead author of the study. “Like the medical community, our principal focus is on prevention and early detection in high-risk areas, but implementing all five steps of the cancer treatment model is vital to the success of biodiversity conservation programs.” 

Much is known about the distribution and impact of aquatic invasive species, but there are few proven tools to prevent or decrease invasions, said Andrew Ray, a USGS scientist and co-author of the study. 

The study used the example of invasive American bullfrogs in the Yellowstone River as a case study for applying the cancer-treatment approach to aquatic invasions in the Northern Rockies.  The article,  Aquatic Invasive Species: Lessons from Cancer Research, can be viewed online

More information about impacts and prevention of aquatic invasive species can be found on the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center website. 

USGS Newsroom

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Parameter Value Description
Magnitude mb The magnitude for the event.
Longitude ° East Decimal degrees longitude. Negative values for western longitudes.
Latitude ° North Decimal degrees latitude. Negative values for southern latitudes.
Depth km Depth of the event in kilometers.
Place Textual description of named geographic region near to the event. This may be a city name, or a Flinn-Engdahl Region name.
Time 1970-01-01 00:00:00 Time when the event occurred. UTC/GMT
Updated 1970-01-01 00:00:00 Time when the event was most recently updated. UTC/GMT
Timezone offset Timezone offset from UTC in minutes at the event epicenter.
Felt The total number of felt reports
CDI The maximum reported intensity for the event.
MMI The maximum estimated instrumental intensity for the event.
Alert Level The alert level from the PAGER earthquake impact scale. Green, Yellow, Orange or Red.
Review Status Indicates whether the event has been reviewed by a human.
Tsunami This flag is set to "1" for large events in oceanic regions and "0" otherwise. The existence or value of this flag does not indicate if a tsunami actually did or will exist.
SIG A number describing how significant the event is. Larger numbers indicate a more significant event.
Network The ID of a data contributor. Identifies the network considered to be the preferred source of information for this event.
Sources A comma-separated list of network contributors.
Number of Stations Used The total number of Number of seismic stations which reported P- and S-arrival times for this earthquake.
Horizontal Distance Horizontal distance from the epicenter to the nearest station (in degrees).
Root Mean Square sec The root-mean-square (RMS) travel time residual, in sec, using all weights.
Azimuthal Gap The largest azimuthal gap between azimuthally adjacent stations (in degrees).
Magnitude Type The method or algorithm used to calculate the preferred magnitude for the event.
Event Type Type of seismic event.
Event ID Id of event.
Event Code An identifying code assigned by, and unique from, the corresponding source for the event.
Event IDS A comma-separated list of event ids that are associated to an event.

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