Thursday, August 27, 2009

Love Potion for Lamprey Eels

MSU researchers hope man-made love potion can save state's fish
As the sun begins to sink along the Little Manistee River in northern Michigan, researcher Nick Johnson is excited and a little nervous. There's a lot riding on what he's about to do.
It's spawning season for the sea lamprey, a prehistoric creature that invaded the Great Lakes 80 years ago, and Johnson is injecting a love potion into the river to lure female sea lampreys into traps.
The eel-like lampreys are one of the Great Lakes' most destructive invasive species, devouring native fish by sucking out their innards. They invaded the lakes in the 1920s, wiping out lake trout in some lakes by the 1950s. A chemical developed to kill lampreys has helped lower their numbers to about half a million in the lakes, but it is expensive and there still are too many lampreys.
Scientists at Michigan State University have developed a man-made copy of a love scent male sea lampreys emit during spawning. Now, they are testing it in 10 Michigan streams.
"It has shown a dramatic impact on the behavior of lamprey," said Mike Siefkes, lamprey control specialist at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in Ann Arbor.
If the pheromone works, it could be a breakthrough in the battle against lamprey in the Great Lakes.
Read more about invasive species in The Dynamic Great Lakes

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