Once niche, podcasts have gone mainstream. According to figures cited in Forbes, 62 million Americans now listen to podcasts each week.

While Wisconsin Sea Grant and the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute have been involved in podcasting for years — from the current series Wisconsin Water News to older programs like Earthwatch Radio — there’s a new kid on the block: a podcast called “Introduced” that will be devoted to aquatic invasive species (AIS).

“Introduced” is the brainchild of Sea Grant Digital Storyteller Bonnie Willison and student employee Sydney Widell, a UW-Madison geography and geosciences major from Shorewood, Wisconsin.

The series spans seven episodes, with one per week released since May 27. Listeners can find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and on Sea Grant’s website.

While the simple name for the series conveys a bit of mystery, it also makes perfect sense. Said Willison, “As Sydney and I started learning more about invasive species, we noticed that there is a tendency for people to villainize these species. But we also noticed that humans are the ones introducing all these species to new environments. The title for our series puts the agency on people, which is something that we focus on in the podcast.”

Guests interviewed in the series include representatives from the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, UW-Madison, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a rescue organization focusing on exotic animals. Several Sea Grant staff also make appearances.

Topics are wide-ranging, from Asian carp to the trade in invasive species on the Internet. Because the AIS field is so rich, Willison anticipates doing a second season of the “Introduced” podcast. Stay tuned.