Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pheromones May Aid in Controlling Sea Lamprey

sea lamprey mouth
sea lamprey mouth (photo by JHY)
based on a news article in the County Press, "Pheromones in river traps attract sea lampreys," by Jack Johnson, April 22, 2009

At Michigan State University field tests have begun to trick sea lampreys to enter traps. The sea lamprey is one of the most devastating parasitic fish to have entered the Great Lakes. They were first found here in the 1920s, entering through locks that bypassed Niagara Falls.

But a study by Weiming Li, an MSU fisheries and wildlife professor, revealed that male lampreys release a pheromone that attracts females. They analyzed the structure and were able to imitate the chemical. Now they are using it to manipulate the lampreys bahavior.

sea lamprey
a lamprey attempts to attach to a handler at the AFFEW Earth Day event on April 18 (photo by JHY)

Initial tests on the Ocqueoc River between Rogers City and Cheboygan show that traps with the pheromones are twice as effective as those without it.

The lampreys eat away at Lake Trout, eventually killing the larger fish. Over a lifetime one lamprey can eat about 40 pounds of fish, and in the 1950s there were 3 million lamprey in the Great Lakes. However, the discovery of TFM, a lampricide has reduced the population to about 450,000. It is used by treating the streams where lamprey larvae grow. TFM has little effect on the rest of the ecosystem, and it’s discovery was a joint US/Canadian effort that tested over 6000 chemicals. Currently the US spends about $10 million a year on lamprey control, and Canada, $8 million.

But there are still too many lamprey. This summer, ten Michigan streams will be fitted with the pheromone-laced traps, four tributaries of Lake Superior, four of Lake Michigan and two of Lake Huron.

Lake Michigan rivers will be the Manistee, Little Manistee, and Betsie rivers and the Carp Lake Outlet. The rivers leading to Lake Superior will be the Misery, Rock, Miners and Betsy rivers. On the Huron side, the East Branch of the Au Gres and the St. Marys rivers will have traps.

Canada will test the traps in 2010 but after the first summer researchers expect to have a good idea of how effective the pheromone traps are. “They're a resilient beast and they know how to survive. They're older than the dinosaurs, and they haven't changed much since then," commented Marc Gaden, of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission

See Great Lakes Fisheries Commission
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

1 comment:

Unknown said...

That just made my skin crawl.
I am so not fond of even the site of a snake of any kind.
I know they serve a purpose but for some reason I cannot even look at them.
Have a great day!

Related Posts with Thumbnails