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Mapping invasive species in Minnesota

Invasive species are all over the state. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has tracked more than 90 invasive species in Minnesota. In the map below, we’ve plotted some 180,000 reports of terrestrial and aquatic data collected by administrative bodies and volunteers. While not comprehensive, it gives a glimpse into how many non-native species have infiltrated the state.

The DNR is a great resource for raw data sets, from aerial photography to deer harvest numbers that go back a decade. Many of these datasets can be found in the Data Deli site, one of the most complete and usable data catalogs from any Minnesota government body. (You can also visit the DNR website to find out more about preventing the spread of invasive terrestrial and aquatic species.)

Click these links to zoom into specific areas such as the Purple Loosestrife around Lake Minnetonka, the Spiny Water fleas along the Baudette RiverSavanna Portage State Park, or the many invasive fish species around Duluth.

Data from the Minnesota DNR Data Deli.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 06/21/2012 - 09:20 am.

    Russian olive is on the graph twice. Once as “olive, Russian” and once as Russian olive.

  2. Submitted by Alan Palazzolo on 06/21/2012 - 09:45 am.


    Hey Rachel.  Thanks for the comments.  The data on the graph is a little more raw than on the map, which standardizes names a bit.  Basically, that is how the DNR data is, different names for the same thing.  I’ll look into cleaning up the data for the graph bit.

  3. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 06/21/2012 - 10:52 am.


    I guess I should also mention that I think the map is pretty darned cool.

  4. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 06/21/2012 - 11:44 am.

    Great visualization

    I know that invasive species are a serious threat.

    Two things, though. Not all of them are as harmful as others and it would be great to nail down the really awful ones, like milfoil and zebra mussels, or have the ability for the map to show one species at a time.

    Also, not enough is written about buckthorn. At the rate it is taking over suburban forests, we should be more worried about it than 90 percent of the species you hear about often.

  5. Submitted by Evelyn Johnson on 06/21/2012 - 02:17 pm.

    Serious threats?

    When will the DNR admit that it’s not just the boats that spread milfoil. They are finding milfoil in drainage ditches, cemetary ponds and reflection pools. I am pretty dearn sure that I never saw a boat in the reflection pool of a cemetary. Plenty of birds but no boats. Zebra Mussels have come from lake superior, when the ships come in to port they empty their water in loaded ballast tanks restore balance when they come to port. Obvioulsy they took on this water somewhere – so when the ships come in to port, check the ballast tanks, if there are non native species – they should not be allowed to dump the water!!

    Also, let’s look at the algae levels of lakes- especially Minnetonka, all those people who have those nice green lawns courtesy of the local lawn service can thank themselves. Because now they have a nice green lake too!

  6. Submitted by Alan Palazzolo on 10/09/2012 - 10:05 am.

    Very interesting map.

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