Telecoupling and the war waging in the Great Lakes

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Sept. 1, 2015

James Roche is a member of the Hal and Jean Glassen Scholars Program working with the Michigan Sea Grant Extension Program Office.

The Cold War is alive and well here in the Great Lakes, but instead of fighting communists we are fightingZebra mussels.USDA photo by Bob Nichols. mollusks! As a result of one of the few successful invasions of U.S. soil by native Soviets we find the zebra mussel. Native to the Black Sea and Caspian Sea the zebra mussel is an extremely troublesome invasive species that causes massive economic and ecological damage to the Great Lakes every year.

Through my research I found that one of the most likely vectors for their introduction was the massive Soviet Grain Sales that took place during the early to mid 1980s. Ironically enough these grain sales that resulted in the introduction of zebra mussels were brokered by Ronald Reagan, the man we credit for eventually bringing down the Soviet Union.

By using the telecoupling concept that I discussed in my previous article I examine how the socioeconomic and natural systems in both the USSR and here at home in the United States lead to the introduction of arguably the most damaging invasive species to the Great Lakes.

Invasive species and global trade: Finding the connections

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