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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Morelli Appointed to National Biological Threats Council

Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Toni Lyn Morelli

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently selected NE CASC Research Ecologist Toni Lyn Morelli to serve on  its newly established Biological Threats and Invasive Species Research Program (BTP) Council for the Ecosystems Mission Area.  Composed of twelve members representing USGS, the broader Department of the Interior, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Council will help ensure the effectiveness of the Biological Threats and Invasive Species Program by providing advice regarding the program’s priorities, future directions, and emerging information needs.  Since its creation by Congress in 2020, BTP has served as the primary federal government initiative designed to help resource managers mitigate harmful impacts from invasive species and wildlife disease by developing actionable research, decision-support tools, and novel management methods. 

“I am honored to have been invited to join the BTP Council and participate in its vital work,” said Morelli. “As the lone representative of the CASC network serving on this body, I will bring a unique perspective to its activities, particularly through my experience with the Northeast Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Network. I look forward to drawing from this experience in making meaningful contributions to the Council.” 

Along with NE CASC University Codirector Bethany Bradley and Carrie Brown-Lima of the New York Invasive Species Research Institute, Morelli founded the RISCC Network in 2016 to reduce the compounding effects of invasive species and climate change by synthesizing relevant science, sharing the needs and knowledge of managers, building stronger scientist-manager communities and conducting priority research. Since that time, Morelli, Bradley and Lima-Brown have created a unique regional network that includes invasion scientists, climate scientists, natural resource managers, policymakers, and stakeholders from the broader public, all of whom work collaboratively on this issue. 

These efforts have recently attracted national attention. In the past year, four regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers used the Northeast RISCC Network as a model to establish their own invasive species and climate change initiatives while relying on the guidance of Morelli and her collaborators to ensure the successful launches of these projects. Additionally, RISCC was recognized last fall with a national Climate Adaption Leadership Award from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) to honor its “exemplary work in reducing climate-related threats and promoting adaptation of the nation’s natural resources.” 

“The past eighteen months have been incredibly inspiring at RISCC,” said Morelli. “The creation of new RISCC initiatives outside the Northeast combined with the national honor the Northeast RISCC recently received from AFWA has helped bring the problem of climate change and invasive species into greater focus within resource management and research circles. By serving as a charter member of the BTP Council, I can share the knowledge that the RISCC Network has developed to help address this issue from a national perspective. I am excited about what we have achieved with RISCC so far and can’t wait to get started on a new phase of this challenge with my fellow Council members.” 

View RISCC Project Page