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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

UMESC Invasive Species Research Highlights

USGS prioritizes science strategy at interagency workshop on invasive species

The UMESC has a long history of research on invasive species. Because of growing concerns about invasive species, the UMESC is developing an Invasive Species Research Initiative. Federal, state, and non-governmental partners joined USGS scientists at a workshop in June 2004 to discuss a draft strategic plan developed at the UMESC to guide research on invasive species conducted at the Center. Workshop participants toured UMESC facilities, helped to prioritize research needs on invasive species issues in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River basins, commented on the UMESC strategic plan, and offered areas to improve the relevancy of the UMESC document to challenges they face regarding invasive species. A report is currently under production from the workshop.

UMESC scientists contribute to historic volume on sea lamprey biology and control

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) held the second Sea Lamprey International Symposium (SLIS) in August 2000. This symposium focused on advances in the understanding of the biology and control of invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes since the first SLIS in 1979. Five manuscripts co-authored by UMESC scientists on improvements in the chemical control of sea lamprey and on nontarget effects of lampricides appeared in a special volume of the Journal of Great Lakes Research in late 2003 devoted to SLIS II.

USGS critical in approval of and training for field trials for sea lamprey attractants

Pheromones are species-specific chemicals produced by many animals for purposes of attraction or reproduction. Whereas the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered specific insect pheromones as pest management tools, vertebrate pheromones have never been used in control applications. Scientists have recently isolated and identified two vertebrate pheromones specific for the invasive sea lamprey, a migratory pheromone and a male sex pheromone, that may prove effective to lure sea lampreys into traps or into unsuitable spawning habitat. UMESC staff was instrumental in obtaining federal EPA experimental use permits (EUPs) and State of Michigan approval to field test these pheromones during 2004 in critical technical assistance provided to the GLFC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). UMESC staff prepared ten submissions in support of two EUPs and provided technical input to EPA staff to obtain approvals of the EUPs, which were approved in final form on April 30, 2004. Because the results of the field work must be submitted to EPA, UMESC provided training in Good Laboratory Practices and record keeping to field crews to ensure the collection of high quality data in May 2004 at the USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station.

Technical assistance to sea lamprey control program

As part of the UMESC’s commitment to provide technical assistance to the Great Lake Fishery Commission’s Sea Lamprey Control Program, Center scientists conduct risk assessments of lampricide treatments to non-target species of concern. One study recently completed determined the relative toxicity of the lampricides to three species of unionid mussels classified as threatened, endangered, or of special concern by the State of Vermont native to tributary streams of Lake Champlain where lampricide treatments have been proposed. This work was part of an interagency agreement with the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (LCFWMC), a multi-agency team comprised of personnel from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the USFWS whose charge is to jointly manage the sea lamprey control effort in Lake Champlain under the supervision of the GLFC. Data from this study demonstrated minimal risk of lampricide treatments to these unionid species and were key to allowing LCFWMC to secure permits to treat the proposed streams with lampricides fall 2004.

Integrated pest management of nonnative fishes in the southwestern United States

The completion of a report contracted by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) on the integrated pest management (IPM) of nonnative fishes represented the culmination of 40 years of research in chemical control of nuisance fishes by scientists at the UMESC. As part of an effort to protect native southwestern fish species, BOR staff identified the need to assess management techniques for controlling invasive aquatic fishes in the southwest. In response, BOR requested that the UMESC develop a document outlining possible measures for an IPM program to control invasive fish species in certain waters in the southwest United States. Of particular interest to BOR was the possibility of developing pesticidesthat are selective for specific groups of fish speciesfor use within an IPM program.

Asian carp risk assessments as technical assistance to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Scientists at the UMESC and the Florida Integrated Science Center are collaborating on biological synopses and risk assessments on the b igheaded carps, genus Hypophthalmichthys (Pisces: Cyprinidae) in response to several petitions to list these species as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act. Bighead and silver carps are established in the Mississippi River basin and continue to expand their range. Growing concern exists over their spread into the Great Lakes and into other areas not yet invaded. An evaluation criteria document was submitted to the USFWS in April 2004. The final draft of the risk assessments will also be submitted in Fiscal Year 2004. These risk assessments will provide the basis for future research at the UMESC on life history informational needs on these species.

USGS provides expertise on national and regional invasive species panels, task forces, work groups, and steering committees

Scientists from the UMESC continue to serve on four national groups on aquatic invasive species issues, the Asian Carp Working Group of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force to aid development of a national management plan for these species, the Risk Assessment Advisory Panel of the National Invasive Species Council to advise the Council on methods of risk assessment for invasive species, the steering committee for ‘Propagated Fishes in Resource Management’, a symposium and workshop held to revise the American Fishery Society (AFS) guidelines for the use of cultured fishes in the environment, and on the Executive Committee of the Introduced Fish Section of the AFS. UMESC scientists also continue to serve on six regional advisory groups on aquatic nuisance species, the Mississippi River Basin Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species, the Asian Carp Rapid Response Team of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Taskforce, and four advisory groups of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission regarding various aspects of sea lamprey control in the Great Lakes.

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