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Invasives Watch | MIS Resource Center| Citizen's Guide to MIS Monitoring

Species Identification

Marine Introduced Species Monitoring Resource Center

Before volunteers can participate in organized monitoring efforts, they need to be able to distinguish between native and introduced marine species for a specific habitat. To facilitate this learning, SSCW has developed 23 marine invader ID cards and basic seaweed identification sheets. We have included links to these ID cards and other species identification resources below. If you are interested in non-native seaweed in Massachusetts, check out the 2013 MA coastal Zone Management Guidance.

We have featured organisms that can be identified by trained volunteers. Many marine organisms can be difficult to identify. Some can only be identified by molecular genetic analysis or by complex taxonomic assessments that are impossible for individuals without formal training in marine invertebrate taxonomy. Because of difficulty in correctly identifying some marine organisms to species level, volunteers should be asked to identify only species that can be identified without the use of a microscope.
When volunteers are monitoring for an organization, they should be asked to focus their learning on a select list of biological invaders of concern, including several that have not yet become established in their region. When a species needs further examination to verify its identity, volunteer monitors should take careful note of its location and obtain documentation of the specimen, e.g. a photo or a small specimen. MIT Sea Grant under its Hitchhiker's Guide Program has developed excellent verification instructions.

Identification Resources

Invaders in New England
16 ID Cards

created by SSCW with funding from Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, EOEEA

Potential Invaders to
New England - 7 ID Cards

created by SSCW with funding from Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, EOEEA

Marine Life Field Guides

Common Seaweeds

More Id Resources

Marine Introduced Species
SSCW PowerPoint Presentation

MIS on Kelp

Kelp covered in introduced species: Membranipora spp. and colonial tunicates


Scientific Books and Papers

Additional Web Site Links

Methods/Data Sharing


MIS Resource Center