(AUSTIN) – Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall, Ph.D., today announced the creation of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species (ISIS), the first comprehensive research effort in Texas focused on the early detection and elimination of multiple invasive species. Housed at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, ISIS will draw from the experience of more than 40 researchers throughout The Texas State University System.
“The Texas State University System has long been a leader in the study and management of invasive species,” said Chancellor McCall. “By coordinating our research efforts through the institute, we can leverage the experience and resources within our system to help Texas respond rapidly to new threats before they cause widespread damage.”
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 State University System’s Institute for the Study of Invasive Species will play a leading role in helping to conserve Texas’ natural resources and lands, and protecting the state’s economy.
While several agencies and organizations work on the invasive species problem in Texas, ISIS is the first that will establish a comprehensive management plan for multiple species. Using GIS mapping and predictive modeling, ISIS researchers will be 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.
The Texas State University System is Texas’ oldest university system and comprises eight institutions stretching from the Big Bend Region to the Louisiana border: Lamar University; Sam Houston State University; Texas State University-San Marcos; Sul Ross State University; Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College; Lamar Institute of Technology; Lamar State College-Orange; and Lamar State College-Port Arthur.