Recreational boating activities enable aquatic invasive species (AIS) dispersal among disconnected lakes, as invertebrates and plants caught on or contained within watercraft and equipment used in invaded waterbodies can survive overland transport. Besides simple preventive measures such as "clean, drain, dry", resource management agencies recommend decontaminating watercraft and equipment using high water pressure, rinsing with hot water, or air-drying to inhibit this mode of secondary spread. There is a lack of studies assessing the efficacy of these methods under realistic conditions and their feasibility for recreational boaters. Hence, we addressed this knowledge gap via experiments on six invertebrate and plant AIS present in Ontario. Washing at high pressures of 900–1200 psi removed the most biological material (90%) from surfaces. Brief (< 10 s) exposure to water at ≥ 60 °C caused nearly 100% mortality among all species tested, except banded mystery snails. Acclimation to temperatures from 15 to 30 °C before hot water exposure had little effect on the minimum temperature required for no survival. Air-drying durations producing complete mortality were ≥ 60 h for zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas, and ≥ 6 days among plants, whereas survival remained high among snails after a week of air-drying. Hot water exposure followed by air-drying was more effective than either method separately against all species tested.
All experiments were conducted at the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS; 44.568 N, 76.325 W) from May 22 to August 23, 2019, and at the Queen’s University campus (44.225 N, 76.495 W) from October 10 to 17, 2019, in Ontario, Canada.
These experiments were conducted using three species of invertebrates (banded mystery snails, Viviparus georgianus; zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha; and spiny waterfleas, Bythotrephes cederstroemi) and three species of aquatic plants (Eurasian watermilfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum; Carolina fanwort, Cabomba caroliniana; and European frogbit, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae). We included ten healthy individuals (invertebrates) or ten 10 cm-long fragments (plants) per treatment, replicated three times, except for European frogbit, where a whole rosette was used per group, with four replicates.