Scientists and students from Central Michigan University's Institute for Great Lakes Research and Department of Biology are assisting 10 U.S. and Canadian agencies this week as they conduct a field exercise experimenting with different strategies to prevent an invasion of Asian carp in western Lake Erie. The exercise allows the agencies to test different methods to prevent an Asian carp invasion from happening.
CMU-IGLR researchers are helping to direct water-sampling efforts by Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel and assisting with its collection and analysis. CMU-IGLR scientists also are testing the reproductive capabilities of any grass carp captured in Lake Erie's western basin. Grass carp are a type of Asian carp.
“In my lab at CMU, with funding from the State of Michigan, we are working with MDNR to assist its efforts in grass carp surveillance,” said Andrew Mahon, IGLR scientist and assistant professor of biology. “We are utilizing multiple tools, including environmental DNA surveillance and monitoring, and my research lab is helping MDNR test any grass carp captured in the western basin of Lake Erie to determine its reproductive status, also known as ploidy testing.”
“The data provided by my lab helps to make decisions on how to best approach the invasion of grass carp in the western basin.”
Grass carp were first introduced in the U.S. in 1963 as a biological weed control agent. Efforts to keep the species from becoming an environmental threat eventually resulted in treating their fertilized eggs with heat, cold or pressure to stop their second maturation division.
Efforts to stop invasive species are critical to the health and well being of the Great Lakes. If invasive species such as Asian carp make a home in the Great Lakes, they could easily destroy the delicate, native ecosystems that support Michigan’s $7.5 billion commercial and sports fishing industry.