Citizen Scientists Combat Invasive Plant Species in the Houston-Galveston Bay Region


Jan. 25, 2007


Glenn, S
Gonzalez, L
Waitt, DE

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Galveston Bay Estuary Program


The Citizen Science Invasive Species Combat (CSISC) program is an initiative by the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) to help monitor and mitigate the spread of invasives species in the Houston-Galveston Bay region. CSISC uses the expertise garnered through a similar program piloted by The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (TWC) in collaboration with HARC. The CSISC program through TWC was launched in Austin, Texas in 2005 with the recruitment and training of a group of qualified volunteers to report invasive species in their communities. Trained volunteers described and photographed invasive species and reported occurrences to their affiliated institution. HARC worked with TWC to provide technical support for the development and maintenance of the relational database used to organize the monitoring data. The primary goals of the CSISC program are to develop a regional network of engaged and trained volunteers contributing to scientific data collection of invasive species; raise public awareness of the dangers of invasive species, and reduce the spread of invasive species through trained volunteers who locate, report and monitor invasive species leading to more timely control and eradication responses from responsible government agencies. Citizen scientists of the initial Houston-Galveston Bay CSISC program are comprised of volunteers from the Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalists and Mercer Arboretum, organizations that are recognized for their volunteer base and public outreach programs. Each organization sent representatives to a "Train the Citizen Scientist" invasive species citizen science workshop held by HARC at Lake Sheldon State Park on September 25th, 2006. The citizen scientists were trained in invasive species identification, field data collection techniques, equipment use (e.g. GPS and digital camera), use of data reporting technology (online data entry application), and data validation. A list of high risk invasive species for the Lower Galveston watershed was developed through the Galveston Bay Invasive Species Risk Assessment completed by HARC in 2004 with funding from the Galveston Bay Estuary Program. The Houston-Galveston Bay CSISC program collects data on many invasive plants; the current focus is on six emerging invasives species identified by the Risk Assessment: Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius), Deeprooted sedge (Cyperus entrerianus), Elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta), Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta), Japanese dodder (Cuscuta japonica) and Kudzu (Pueraria Montana).Collected information includes site GPS data, site description, species type and USDA species code, extent of coverage, and abundance. Data are entered using a web-based data entry application originally developed by HARC for the Central Texas CSISC. The field data entry area and maps are accessed via, a Texas Invasives informational website hosted by HARC. A specific focus area for the Houston-Galveston Bay CSISC program will be added to the Texas Invasives website. The Houston-Galveston webpage will contain educational materials and information specific to invasives of the Houston-Galveston region, as well as links to the CSISC database and mapping tools.




brazilian peppertree, Citizen Science Invasive Species Combat (CSISC), Colocasia esculenta, Cuscuta japonica, Cyperus entrerianus, deeprooted sedge, elephant ear, giant salvinia, invasive species, japanese dodder, kudzu, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (TWC), Pueraria Montana, Salvinia molesta, Schinus terebinthifolius