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GLIN==> Fish Profiling May Help Prevent Future Great Lakes Invasions

Posted on behalf of Irene Miles <miles@uiuc.edu>

Source: David Lodge (574)631-6094

Contact: Irene Miles (217)333-8055

Fish Profiling May Help Prevent Future Great Lakes Invasions

Suspect profiling is a commonly used technique in the fight against crime.
Now scientists are using species profiling to help prevent further
introductions of invasive fish into the Great Lakes and other waterways.

"Once an invasive species becomes established in a new environment, its
impact often is irreversible," said David Lodge, biologist at University of
Notre Dame. But, not all exotic species present a threat to the balance of
an ecosystem. Many introduced species simply do not survive or do not become
a nuisance.

"If we knew which ones would be likely to present problems in the future, we
could focus our efforts on preventing those particular species from taking
hold," said Lodge, who is a member of the Federal Invasive Species Advisory
Committee. To provide some answers, Lodge and fellow researcher Cindy Kolar,
developed a risk-assessment "decision tree" that environmental agencies and
managers can use to predict possible culprits of tomorrow. This computer
model correctly identified nuisance fish with a high degree of accuracy.

"Ideally, environmental managers might choose to prevent all species from
being introduced into an ecosystem under the credo that exotics are guilty
until proven innocent, but from an economic point of view, that's not
practical. Some industries, such as horticulture, depend on importing new
species. We need to achieve a reasonable balance between commerce and the

Lodge and Kolar studied the history of exotic species to find a common
thread in those that succeed in their new environments. Funded by
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, they focused their efforts on fishes in the
Great Lakes and the Illinois River. These results have been published
recently in the journal Science.

Using data from as far back as the glacial age, the researchers gathered
information on a range of species characteristics to identify those that are
likely to be adaptive in new environments.  They looked to examples from as
early as the 1600s and found 24 nonindigenous fish species that have firmly
established themselves in the Great Lakes. How were they able to thrive so
well with native fish?

"Introduced species that are successful have several traits in common," said
Lodge.  "More so than unsuccessful invaders, they tolerate a wide range in
temperature and salinity. These fishes are also smaller at maturity and have
higher reproduction rates."

By applying the profile to fishes that have not yet been introduced to the
Great Lakes, Lodge and Kolar have identified 22 species that one day may
pose problems. One example is the monkey goby, which is native to the
Caspian Sea. Monkey gobies are in the same family as round gobies, which
have proven to be quite successful after their introduction into the Great
Lakes.  On the other hand, tubenose gobies have not.

With this sort of information, prevention efforts can be targeted. "The
first line of defense in preventing these potential nuisance species from
making their way into our waterways is to work with aquaculture, bait,
aquarium and other industries to stop any intentional introductions of these
fishes," explained Lodge.

"Unintentional introductions, such as in the ballast of ships, can be
difficult to completely prevent, but by carefully selecting when and where
ballast water is taken in, we can lower the probability of these fishes
being transported. The use of toxins and other eradication technologies in
ballast water can also prove effective. And, with increased monitoring we
can take strong action to eliminate these species if they are discovered,"
added Lodge.

"An immediate rapid response to a species that is a likely threat-even if it
is fairly expensive-might save a great deal of money and effort, and reduce
environmental effects, down the road," said Lodge.

If you would like more information about invasive species, visit the Sea
Grant Web site on this topic at www.sgnis.org


The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program is one of 30 National Sea
Grant College Programs. Created by Congress in 1966, Sea Grant combines
university, government, business and industry expertise to address coastal
and Great Lakes needs.  Funding is provided by the National Oceanic
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U. S. Department of Commerce, the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University at West
Lafayette, Indiana.

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