Tag Archives: invasive species

Infestation in the Great Lakes

(ScienceDailly LLC)

(ScienceDailly LLC)

I am from a town with two lakes, Lake Michigan and its one of its tributaries Muskegon Lake. They have been a fishing destination for the most part of my life. As an avid fisherman, I can say that fishing in Lake Michigan or a tributary of Lake Michigan in Muskegon Lake angers me when compared with other lakes. The problem I have comes through a bothersome, ample species: The Goby.

When fishing in Lake Michigan or its tributaries around Muskegon with a live worm, I don’t have much fun. I w set my fishing pole in the water briefly and within seconds I will have a tiny Goby (only about an inch or two long) on my line, which is no fun to reel in. They never stop biting and seem to be endless. You cannot eat or clean them because they are very tiny. Goby are very pesky because they are so small, hard to hook, and often steal my bait. We are supposed to kill every single Goby caught.

The Gobies gained access into the Great Lakes and its tributaries in 1990. They came from the Black and Caspian Sea areas of Eastern Europe. They got to the Great Lakes via big ships and vessels. Gobies look as portrayed, “Round Gobies can reach up to 10 inches in length as adults, but usually they are less than 7 inches long in the Great Lakes. Females and immature male round Gobies are a mottled gray and brown color. Spawning males turn almost solid black. Round Gobies have a soft body and a large, rounded head with eyes that protrude near the top” (USGS).

So what is the problem with Gobies and why are they such a big deal? I personally have noticed that they spawn like crazy, eat other species food and eggs, and survive in almost all climates. To prove my observation “Once round gobies arrive they can become the dominant fish species. Round Gobies prefer rocky, shallow areas, but have flourished in a variety of habitat types. Regardless of the habitat, round Gobies are very aggressive fish that compete with native fishes for food and space. Anglers who fish in areas with round Gobies often find that the gobies steal their bait and appear to be the only type of fish in the area”(USGS). Gobies make it hard for fish close to extinction to survive and affect the population of other fish previously thriving.

Eric Weinberg

Sources:

http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/main.php?content=research_invasive_goby&title=Invasive%20Fish0&menu=research_invasive_fish  (Round Goby: An Exotic fish in the Great Fact Sheet)

Invasive Species in Novi, Michigan

According to the article “Environment Issues and Resources, “an invasive plant species is any species that has been introduced into an ecosystem to which the species is not indigenous and which has a tendency to spread rapidly.” These species, which fall outside of their natural habitat, can come from foreign countries and even people who  simply transport the organism within the same country, not being aware of the dangers it can actually cause.  Not only do these organisms pose a problem on the environment, but they can also become an issue with humans and the economy. Invasive species become dangerous as they spread quickly and overpopulate native species which do not recognize the omen.

Cities and countries throughout our entire world experience issues with invasive species. One specific area within the United States is Novi, Michigan, a city on the lower, east side of the state near Detroit. The main issue within this city deals with invasive plant species. Such devastating species in this area include the following: purple loosestrife, common reed (as shown in the picture above), tree of heaven, multiflora rose, English ivy, and garlic mustard. Often times, people fail to realize that these specific plants are considered to be invasive and fail to take the necessary precautions. Therefore, these species can have a negative impact on the biodiversity, water conditions, soil, native insects, etc. on the area.

Another location within/near Michigan in which invasive species have become an issue is the Great Lakes. According to the article “Ten Threats: Hidden Costs of Invasives” large foreign ocean-liners  have been responsible for carrying these invasive species into the area. Although nearly one hundred and sixty organisms have been accidentally transported into this area, zebra mussels are considered the most widely invasive species of the great lakes.

Since many places deal with the common issue of invasive species, it is important for people to understand the negative repercussions these organisms have on one’s ecosystem.

– Jennifer Klepser

Bibliography:

#1.  “Environmental Issues and Resources.” City of Novi Michigan. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cityofnovi.org/services/commdev/environmentalissuesandresources.asp>.

#2.  “Ten Threats: Hidden Costs of Invasives.” The Environment Report. 2010. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://environmentreport.org/story.php?story_id=2795>.

Here Piggy, Piggy: The Political Battle for Feral Swine

On April 1st, a new Michigan law was implemented to help combat the feral swine infestation.  The bill recognizes that feral swine have become an invasive species worthy of political action.  As some may know, wild hogs and feral swine have been devastating to Michigan’s agricultural business.  In fact, it was estimated that 1000s of jobs could be loss due to wild hog consumption of their crops.

On top of the pigs eating crops, they also pose a major threat to ecosystems and to humans.  In terms of the ecosystem, swine immediately become one of the top predators in whatever system they choose to roam.  Taking away vital food from local animals and pushing them out of their natural habitat.  Also, swine carry parasites, and diseases like swine cholera and tuberculosis which obviously can affect various populations.  Not only do those diseases affect animals but they also affect us people.  The spread of tuberculosis and salmonellosis spread quickly among domesticated animals (farm pigs and cattle) and local agriculture.  Which, in turn creates a problem for humans because we love to eat pork and beef.

Alternatively, the passing of the bill has stirred up some political debate of whether or not the law is fair.  The law makes it so people can go out and hunt these feral pigs, which the DNR gives incentive to do so.  Kind of like the Asian Carp, turning in a wild pig is rewarded in a monetary fashion.  Also, the law gives the DNR permission to inspect any farm that they suspect of housing wild hog or feral swine. And, if in fact they are, eliminate the illegal swine on site.  This is partially what has caused the debate, because several farmers claimed the DNR has came in and exterminated their whole lot of pigs.  As a result, several law suits have been filed against the DNR and are still pending on results. But, more than likely, will not be successful.

Do you agree with the hunting of wild hog and feral swine? Leave a comment with your opinion.  Also, here are a few websites that speak more about the subject.

http://www.porknetwork.com/pork-news/

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/

http://nationalhogfarmer.com/

Jacob Moses

Preying on Great Lake natives

Sea lamprey have been a large problem in the great lakes since the 1830’s when they are first thought to have infiltrated the great lakes. And by 1940 the sea lamprey had made it north to all of the great lakes. Sea lamprey are native to the Atlantic Ocean and entered the Great Lakes through man-made canals. Sea lamprey are very aggressive and lay a ton of eggs. Also they have no natural predators around here, which make it very easy for them to overwhelm an ecosystem like the Great Lakes. Sea lamprey parasitically feed on host fish by latching on to their side and using their teeth and tongue to suck out the bodily fluids of the host fish. Only one in every seven fish attacked by sea lamprey survives. During the parasitic life of the sea lamprey, each one kills anywhere between 15-40 pounds of fish.

The lamprey feed on larger fish, such as lake trout, salmon, steelhead, and whitefish, all Great Lake natives. During the 1940s and 50s sea lamprey were blamed the rapid decline in the number of lake trout. The US and Canada used to harvest 15 million pounds of lake trout but by the early 1960s, only 20 years after the introduction of the sea lamprey, only 300,000 pounds were harvested. This had a huge impact on the ecosystem because other species were able to reproduce rapidly with out the large fish preying on them. This also had an impact on the economy because fisheries struggled, fishing tourism went way down and also with all the dead fish washing up on the beaches its also took away from the beach tourism as well.

The sea lamprey have been a huge problem to the Great Lakes and the surrounding areas and we realized that a mitigation strategy was needed fast. In 1955 the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) was created for the purpose of restoring fisheries and one of its main goals is to reduce the affects of lamprey. Lamprey traps and barriers were created but were not able to be efficient 100% of the time. So they produced the chemical TFM, which kill a majority of the lamprey and their weakest state, when they are buried under ground as larva. This was extremely successful and brought the lamprey population to 10% it’s original size allowing the lake trout to support themselves again. However research continues to try and find a safer and more effective way to remove the lamprey from the Great Lakes and universities such as Minnesota and our own Michigan State.

Sea Lamprey have been a nuisance for the Great Lakes but now with newer technology and better research the lamprey are one of the most successfully controlled invasive species. It is very important to keep the Great Lakes healthy because without them the consequences will be enormous.

Sources:
http://www.glfc.org/lampcon.php
http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/main.php?content=research_lamprey&title=…nu=research_invasive_fish

  • Adam Kogelshcatz

Zebra Mussel Infestation

Anyone familiar with the Great Lakes has heard of Zebra Mussels. The little stripped mollusks have been on the steady incline since their introduction to the Great Lakes about two decades ago, and have caused great concern for scientists and sportsman alike. Being an invasive species that have practically no natural predators, their population has caused numerous problems with local species, sport fishing, and even lake dependent industry. Understanding the nature and reason behind these problem creatures is the beginning to their eradication.

The Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is a small mollusk that grows up to 2 inches wide, and lives for about 5 years. They are native to Russia, and previously to 1988 were never seen in North America. The leading theory as to how they arrived is that they were taken on in bilge water on European cargo ships, and discharged on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair. Because a female Zebra Mussel can lie between 30,000 and a million eggs, their population exploded; and the environment has not responded well to their introduction.
The Zebra Mussel can filter up to a quart of water a day and with their numbers, have changed entire ecosystems. A good indicator of a heavy infestation (aside from visual confirmation), is observing a body go from cloudy to clear in a relatively short amount of time; though clear water may benefit some plant growth and plant eating fish, this merely serves a minor positive in an overall bad situation. In addition to starving other aquatic creatures by filtering out all the nutrients in the water, they also are known to anchor themselves onto living creatures, occasionally hindering them to immobility.
Industry and Utilities have also felt the toll from Zebra Mussels. Ships, ports, and fisheries often find themselves under siege by the never ending hoards of Zebra Mussels clinging to hulls, docks, nets, pipes, etc. Industry dependent on a constant flow of fresh water from the great lakes often find it necessary to remove masses of them from inlet pipes in order to prevent restricting the flow of water. This is particularly hazardous to nuclear power plants, which depend on the cool lake water to keep the reactors from overheating.
Current attempts to curb the Zebra Mussels ever increasing populations have overall been ineffective. Tough there a few animals that have begun feeding on them (perch, catfish, sunfish, and a few others) they still are pretty much safe from predators. Chemicals such as chlorine have been effective, but unfortunately it pretty much kills everything, including the environment that we are trying to preserve, so its use has been limited. Until a more effective means of removing them are discovered, the best we can do is brace for even more of them.
Anthony Antonelli
http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/biology/a_zm.html
http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/

Invasion of the Asian Carp?

As many people living in the Great Lakes area have heard, there is a large issue involving invasive species in the Great Lakes, most notably, the Asian Carp. This name refers to any of four species of carp that are native to Asia. They were initially introduced to help control algae in fish ponds in the South. They quickly spread throughout the area and are now threatening to enter Lake Michigan, and thereby all the other Great Lakes from the Mississippi River through the Chicago Canal System.

If the Asian Carp firmly establish themselves in the Great Lakes, they would threaten the natural ecosystem seriously. They can eat up to 20% of their body weight every day and grow up to 110 pounds, and as a result, there is no speices in North America that has the capacity to eat these massive fish. They eat plankton and algae and as a result outcompete the native species for food, growing and reproducing very rapidly.

There are many efforts being made to come up with a solution to this problem. An ecological separation seems to be a necessity. Currently there are electric barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal that are helping to control the issue but they do not prevent all nonnative species from crossing and are not a long term solution. The Great Lakes Commission has come up with 3 alternatives for keeping nonnative species out of Lake Michigan. These are barriers in 3 different areas of the CSSC. The costs and positives and negatives of each of these alternatives were very closely analyzed, and it seems that The Mid-System Alternative would be the best option.

I think that it is very important that this issue be addressed and taken seriously. The Great Lakes are a valuable resource to all of the surrounding areas, if not to all of Canada and the United States. If these nonnative species take over, the entire ecosystem could be changed and therefore the way in which humans and animals interact with it would be different as well. It is difficult to determine what the exact results would be, but nothing beneficial can come from this, and therefore it should be addressed as soon as possible.

More information about this issue and the 3 alternatives can be found here:

http://www.glc.org/caws/pdf/CAWS-PublicSummary-mediumres.pdf

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/areas/greatlakes/newsroom/restoring-the-natural-divide-1.xml

MARISSA REECE