The Texas Invasive Species Institute, established by the Texas State University System in 2011, is the state’s only comprehensive research effort focused on the early detection of, and rapid response to, new invasive species that impact ecosystems and the economy. The Institute draws from the expertise of more than 40 researchers from a wide range of disciplines across TSUS.
While several agencies and organizations work on the invasive species problem in Texas, TISI is the first that has established a comprehensive management plan for multiple species. Using GIS mapping and predictive modeling, TISI researchers are able to rapidly identify new and existing invasive species. This information can be used to quickly develop invasive species management plans for Texas and the Gulf Coast region in order to control or eradicate potential threats.
Due to its geographic relationship to ports, international borders and corridors between states, Texas is a key point of origin for the nation’s new threats of invasive species. To date, more than 800 aquatic and terrestrial species have invaded Texas and more are expected in the years ahead. The impact of these species is far-reaching, including threatening the nation’s food supply, damaging infrastructure, destroying natural resources, reducing water supplies and jeopardizing national security.
For example, the Rasberry Crazy Ant, which was first discovered near Houston in 2005, has spread to more than 20 counties in Texas and has also been found in Louisiana and Mississippi. This species develops massive populations that infest and destroy infrastructure. Already, it has attacked electrical equipment at NASA and one company in the chemical industry sustained $1 million in damage to equipment.
Working with various state agencies and other stakeholders in Texas and beyond, the Texas Invasive Species Institute plays leading role in helping to conserve Texas’ natural resources and lands, and protecting the state’s economy.