Aquatic Invasive Species

Modeling potential habitats for invasive carp in Lake Michigan


Peter Alsip, Graduate student fellow, University of Michigan

Alongside efforts to prevent and detect invasive carp in the Great Lakes, scientists are also working to determine which areas might provide favorable habitat to invading carp. Current efforts to model potential carp habitat and distribution in Lake Michigan have only assessed surface conditions. University of Michigan graduate student Peter Alsip will work with NOAA scientists to develop a three-dimensional model of potential habitats for bighead and silver carp in Lake Michigan, factoring in climate change and other long-term shifts in lake conditions.

Project overview (PDF)

Executive Summary (PDF)

Impacts and drivers of round goby invasion in Great Lakes tributaries


Corey Krabbenhoft, Graduate student fellow, Wayne State University

Rivers and streams linked to the Great Lakes serve as nursery and spawning habitat for many fish species. Unfortunately, these tributaries also provide channels for invasive species to move into inland waters. Stressors such as habitat loss, prior invasions, high nutrient levels, or pollution may render tributaries more vulnerable to colonization by new invasive species. Corey Krabbenhoft, a Ph.D. student at Wayne State University, will study this question, working with local watershed councils to quantify ecological stressors in seven Michigan rivers and gauge the relative impact of invasion by round goby.

Project overview (PDF)

Final report (PDF)

Effects of nearshore nutrient cycling on Lake Michigan’s benthic invasive species


Kevin Pangle, Lead principal investigator, Central Michigan University

Nutrient cycling in Lake Michigan has shifted in recent years, with an increased proportion of incoming nutrients being claimed by benthic, or bottom-dwelling, organisms living near shore. In places where the benthic near-shore habitat is dominated by invasive species, this diversion of energy may have wide-ranging impacts on Lake Michigan’s food web. The project team surveyed populations of bottom-dwelling invasive species in nearshore habitats and set up artificial habitats to test how well these invasive species performed under different nutrient conditions. Finally, they sampled and analyzed various Lake Michigan invertebrates, algae, plankton, and fish to determine how nutrients are cycling through nearshore and offshore habitats.

Journal article (PDF)

Using acoustic cameras to track native and invasive migratory species

2016-2018 Erin McCann, Central Michigan University, MISG graduate student fellow Michigan’s streams are home to two very different migratory species: the invasive, harmful sea lamprey and the valuable, angler-friendly rainbow trout. In recent years, state-of-the-art acoustic cameras (cameras which capture images using sound waves) have been deployed in two northern Michigan rivers to collect images of migrating fish. The research team will develop a computer program that can process images generated by the acoustic cameras and distinguish between sea lampreys and rainbow trout. The results will help verify or update lamprey and trout population estimates calculated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Project overview (PDF)

What allows zebra mussels to attach so tightly and quickly to hard surfaces?

Mohamed Faisal, Michigan State University

Full title: Identification of Adhesion Molecules in the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

Among their many traits, zebra mussels have a remarkable ability to attach quickly and tightly to underwater surfaces using fine hairs called byssal threads and a complex mixture of adhesive proteins. Once established on underwater surfaces and inside water intake pipes in the Great Lakes and inland waters, zebra mussels filter nutrients, alter native habitat, and contribute to harmful algal blooms and loss of native species. Researchers are using DNA technology to identify the adhesion proteins and processes of zebra mussels, which may lead to innovative strategies to control zebra mussel populations.

Project: R/ZM-10

Identification of diseases and host defense mechanisms in the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

Mohamed Faisal, Michigan State University

Project: R/NIS-13

Round goby research helps explain rapid spread

David Jude, University of Michigan

Full title: Impact, Barriers, and Control of Round and Tubenose Gobies in the Great Lakes

Research supported in part by Michigan Sea Grant has revealed how the invasive round goby may have spread so rapidly throughout the Great Lakes. University of Michigan scientists documented that during the night, round gobies migrate from the lake bottom to surface waters. This movement is thought to increase the chances of larval gobies getting drawn into commercial ships when they take on ballast water at night. The results of the project could influence how ballast water is managed in both domestic and foreign freighters in the Great Lakes.

Project: R/NIS-7

A collaborative approach to advance implementation of state management plans for prevention and control of aquatic nuisance species in the Great Lakes region

Tom Crane and Michael Donahue, Great Lakes Commission

Project: R/NIS-12

The economics of policy options for controlling the introduction and spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes

Richard Horan and Frank Lupi, Michigan State University

Researchers assessed several economic methods, or policy options, that may be used to prevent and control the introduction of aquatic invasive species. Examples of policy options include economic incentives, technology regulations, and market-based systems. Results of a quantitative model incorporating these alternative ballast water management options demonstrate how flexible, market-based policies can significantly reduce industry-wide ballast management costs, which differ substantially across vessels. The research recommends ways that policy makers can use economic incentives to achieve greater environmental risk reductions. The project has drawn the attention of several groups of economists and ecologists working on invasives issues, as well as policy makers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Project: R/EP-9

Understanding the influence of zebra mussels on toxic cyanobacterial blooms

Orlando Sarnelle, Michigan State University

Lakes with zebra mussel populations have an average of three times higher levels of a species of blue-green algae known as Microcystis than lakes without. Those same lakes also have about twice the level of microcystins, a toxin produced by the algae. There have been documented cases in which animals, including cattle and dogs, died after drinking water with high levels of microcystins and the toxin is believed to be responsible for liver damage in humans. Initially, investigators collected water samples from nearly 100 inland lakes in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, ranging from Benzie County in the northwest to Oakland County in the southeast, with established zebra mussel populations. Follow-up experiments by Sarnelle and colleagues in west Michigan’s Gull Lake showed that zebra mussels are indeed the cause of the increase in toxic algae.

Project: R/NIS-4

Economic impact of measures to limit introduction of non-indigenous species on St. Lawrence Seaway shipping

Anastassios Perakis, University of Michigan
Michael Donahue, Great Lakes Commission

Project: R/NIS-3

Invasion susceptibility and ecosystems fragmentation of Great Lakes coastal rivers and lakes by the newly introduced round and tubenose goby

David Jude, University of Michigan

Project: R/NIS-2

The potential economic damage of ruffe in the Great Lakes

John Hoehn and Frank Lupi, Michigan State University

Project: R/NIS-1