ICAIS 2022 – Conference Summary
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are a growing problem as they continue to spread. They impact public safety, degrade nature, potentially undermine (aquatic) ecosystem functioning, and bring huge costs when they arrive and establish in a new area, and this growing problem is exacerbated by climate change.
For the past 30 years ICAIS has been the most comprehensive international forum to address new and emerging issues related to AIS in freshwater, marine and estuarine environments. It provides a platform for presentation of research to advance global action and limit the introduction and spread of AIS worldwide.
When planning began for ICAIS 2022 there was no way of predicting that there would be a global pandemic. Many of our ICAIS colleagues were impacted by COVID-19, and it was for that reason ICAIS 2022 was held as a hybrid event to enable participation both on-site and virtually.
The theme of ICAIS 2022 was “Global Climate Change Amplifies Aquatic Invasive Species Impacts” to demonstrate the interconnectedness of global invasive species issues, expand knowledge on the latest science and policy, and inspire regional, national and international cooperation and collaboration on research and management projects at a global scale.
The conference included seven keynote presentations by renowned international scientists from different disciplines, who each provided their perspectives on climate change within their respective areas of expertise.
There were four concurrent sessions each day, involving 188 oral presentations covering a wide range of topics and issues, a robust poster session with 52 presentations, the special session “Research at the interface of climate change, aquatic invasive species and diseases” and the LIFE RIPARIAS workshop.
The post-conference tour provided participants with the opportunity to see a large variety of marine and freshwater invasive species in their invaded habitat in The Netherlands and Belgium.
ICAIS 2022 was a conference of firsts and mosts:
- It was the first hybrid conference in the ICAIS series, which enabled continuation of international collaboration within the AIS community.
- It was the first time in 15 years for the conference to return to Europe – recognized as long overdue.
- There were representatives from 41 countries, the most ever in this conference series.
- It had the largest contingent of students and early career professionals.
- It welcomed 11 researchers whose participation was made possible through funding from the first ICAIS Diversity Bursary Program.
Throughout the conference there was an abundance of knowledge from which to learn, and opportunities for networking and future collaboration that will help to minimize the introduction, establishment and spread of AIS.
Thank you to everyone who participated in ICAIS 2022, and especially to the financial partners whose generous contributions made the conference possible.