Preventing

Ascertaining whether an enhanced bubble curtain could deter Asian carp movement into small tributaries in a practical manner; immediate installation of sound deterrents in the Mississippi River

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Peter Sorensen

Description: In 2009, the University of Minnesota developed an enhanced new bubble curtain design that reduces up- and down-stream movement of the invasive common carp by 70-80% (results under peer review). The primary advantage of this new technology is that it is very practical and inexpensive: a simple industrial blower connected to PVC pipes with holes drilled in a specific manner (that costs less than $2,000) can stop about 75% of all common carp. This technology also has the potential to be taxon-specific because it is based on sound and hydrodynamic fields generated by the bubbles and additionally will work safely and efficiently in shallow waters.

Because the silver and bighead carp are just as (and possibly more) sensitive to sound as the common carp, this technology could have great potential for stopping these new, highly invasive species in the hundreds of small tributaries to Minnesota's large rivers that are too expensive and difficult to protect with other methods, such as electrical or mechanical barriers.

In continuation of MAISRC efforts to use sound deterrents to control movement of bighead and silver carp in Minnesota's rivers, and response to the recent report of late-stage bighead carp embryos being found in Mississippi River Pool 9, MAISRC proposes to immediately purchase and install underwater transducers at Lock & Dam #8.

Project start date: 2012

Project end date: 2014

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Blocking bighead, silver, and other invasive carp by optimizing lock and dams

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Peter Sorensen

Project description: Untold millions of invasive Silver and Bighead carp presently inhabit the Mississippi River below the Iowa border from where they threaten to invade Minnesota. This project proposes to solve this problem by developing a scheme to modify lock and dam structures in Minnesota by enhancing their deterrent properties through four key, linked steps.

Activity 1: Install a safe carp deterrent in front of the lock at Lock and Dam #8 located at the Iowa border while guiding efforts to enhance and optimize velocity fields to stop carp movement through its gates while having minimal effects on native fishes. The goal of this activity is to immediately and safely maximize water velocity through the gates of lock and dam #8 near the Iowa border while deploying a simple and safe acoustical deterrent system in its lock chamber as a stop-gap measure.

Activity 2: Quantify the swimming capabilities of both species of adult Bighead carps, thereby producing the data needed to optimize dam function. Swimming performance data for adult carps are essential to accurately forecast passage and optimize gate function so that velocities are not higher than needed.

Activity 3: Test and develop new acoustical deterrent systems that best deter carp from entering lock chambers which have minimal effects on native fishes. Lock chambers present a potential way for Bigheaded carps to pass upstream, irrespective of gate function. Sound deterrents have special promise because carps are hearing specialists.

Activity 4: Develop numeric solutions to eventually optimize dam operation at all Minnesota lock and dams (#2 through #8) to prevent Bighead carp invasion statewide while having minimal effects on native fishes. The purpose of this activity is to identify potential weaknesses (scenarios by which carp might swim thorough the lock and dams) in Lock and Dam #2 in Hastings and then optimize gate operation to block Bighead carp throughout the entire lock and dam system in Minnesota. Lock and Dam #2 is of special interest because it maintains higher velocities than other dams, is ideally situated far from the invasion front, and is located downstream of the Minnesota River.

The final objective of this work is to make explicit recommendations with (and to) the USACE for optimization of all Minnesota lock and dams (#2 through #8) to block the invasion of Bigheaded carps while still serving USACE needs and having minimal effects in native fishes.

Project start date: 2014

Estimated project end date: 2017

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Zebra mussel investigations: pathways and mechanisms of spread, new molecular approaches for early detection, and methods for estimating population change in response to pesticide treatment

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Michael McCartney

Description: Today, zebra mussel invasions of inland lakes in Minnesota are clearly on the increase. Further containment and control require knowledge of invasion pathways and mechanisms in the state, which remain unstudied. They also require early detection of new invasions, methods for which (visual counts by microscopy) are reliable but they are slow and at present, positive results cannot be confirmed by an accepted independent technique. Confirmation is particularly called for in the case of early invasions, in which a positive detection may be a small number of veliger larvae from lakes in which adult mussels have yet to be found, and for which the costs of an infested designation to local economies can be substantial.

Activity 1: Evaluating pathways and mechanisms of spread

Our first objective is to use population genetics of highly variable microsatellite DNA and Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) markers to evaluate the sources of inland invasions throughout Minnesota, and the pathways through which zebra mussels have spread throughout the state. In addition to history, this work will provide managers a basis for focusing prevention—for example, they may be able to gauge the extent to which mussels are currently being spread from the Mississippi River, or from a large inland lake source (such as Mille Lacs).

Progress: A diverse set of samples – 1,281 mussels from 16 lakes and 3 river systems – have been genotyped and analyzed for genetic structure and invasion modeling. In partnership with the University of Minnesota Genomics Center, Illumina paired-end sequencing of genomic DNA extracted from a single mussel is now complete. Analysis is also complete for the microsatellite markers for the initial set of ten lakes. Preliminary analysis finds reason to question the “super spreader” concept and also suggests that inspection and enforcement has historically been more effective than some realize. These results are now being checked over a larger sample of lakes.

Activity 2:  Studying downstream drift as a mechanism of spread of zebra mussels between lakes

Our second objective is to address the spread mechanism of "downstream drift" in coupled lake/small stream systems throughout the state. Downstream drift is the natural mechanism of spread between water bodies through downstream dispersal of veliger larvae, which settle and found populations of mussels within the stream, as well as populations in the water body into which the stream flows. This project will estimate the flux (i.e. the number of veliger larvae that drift downstream per day) into the downstream water body throughout the reproductive season, how this flux changes with distance from the upstream lake, and the rate of settlement of juvenile mussels at increasing distances downstream. This work will be conducted in streams with varying lengths, stream discharge rates, and population densities of zebra mussels in upstream lakes to examine the influence of these factors on the magnitude of downstream drift.

Progress: Veliger sampling and analysis has been completed and the risk of downstream drift has been affirmed. Read more here.

Activity 3: Developing and testing a new molecular assay for early detection of zebra mussel veligers

Our third objective is to develop a new rapid molecular assay for early detection of zebra mussel veliger larvae, and test the assay performance in control experiments and on field samples from lakes throughout Minnesota. Through this process we will develop a reliable, sensitive, and rapid molecular alternative to the microscopy assay, presently used as a standard method. The molecular assay, we envision, will be used as an alternative to check the validity of positive detections, particularly in high priority lakes. With further development, the molecular assay will be an inexpensive, and – particularly with automation – a very rapid way to screen water bodies for early detection.

Progess: Researchers have successfully developed a new molecular detection assay for the early detection of zebra and quagga mussels DNA and larvae. This new tool will improve critical early detection efforts which increase the likelihood of controlling a new infestation. Read more here.

Project start date: 2013

Estimated project end date: 2016

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Citizen Science and Professional Training Programs to Support AIS Response

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Dan Larkin

Description: MAISRC is partnering with University of Minnesota Extension to develop and implement an organized statewide surveillance program to target high-risk areas with trained observers and to collect and share AIS treatment response data that could inform both research and management. The program will be split into two parts:

The AIS Detectors program, led by Eleanor Burkett, will train citizen scientists and professionals to make credible AIS reports in coordination with the Minnesota DNR, allowing agency staff to more efficiently focus on verifying new infestations. Participants will undergo training to ensure their ability to properly identify suspected AIS. AIS Detectors will not make definitive conclusions or announcements – instead, their role will be to determine if a report to the Minnesota DNR is necessary by screening out false-positive samples from being reported. The program will focus on species that the MAISRC interagency technical committee determined to be priorities for the state or for the region in which the training is provided, including bighead carp, silver carp, ruffe, round goby, spiny waterflea, zebra mussels, quagga mussels, starry stonewort, Eurasian watermilfoil, and hydrilla.

This will be complemented by the AIS Trackers program, led by Megan Weber. This program will train participants to monitor changes in populations of AIS over time in  response to treatment efforts. AIS Trackers will input data into an interactive AIS database, which will be accessible to MAISRC researchers,Minnesota DNR, and participating AIS managers, enabling greater capacity for surveillance, monitoring, response, and management.

Online, classroom, and field curricula will be developed for both programs. The extension educators will be responsible for planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating the programs.

Project start date: 2015

Estimated project end date: 2019

Progress:

The online and classroom components of the AIS Detectors program have been developed and reviewed by MAISRC scientists and DNR specialists. A pilot in-person class was conducted with citizens in Brainerd in fall of 2016, and thirteen new AIS Detectors were certified. Feedback on the program was received and revisions are being made in preparation for a statewide launch in spring 2017. The AIS Trackers program is under development for expected piloting in late 2017. 

Updates:

First class of AIS Detectors certified (MAISRC newsletter)

University of Minnesota certifies first class of AIS Detectors (MAISRC in the news)

MAISRC welcomes Megan Weber as new Extension Educator (MAISRC newsletter)

New aquatic invasive species Extension program coming soon! (MAISRC newsletter)

Now hiring: AIS Extension Educator (MAISRC newsletter)

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Citizen Science and Professional Training Programs to Support AIS Response

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Dan Larkin

Description: MAISRC is partnering with University of Minnesota Extension to develop and implement an organized statewide surveillance program to target high-risk areas with trained observers and to collect and share AIS treatment response data that could inform both research and management. The program will be split into two parts:

The AIS Detectors program, led by Eleanor Burkett, will train citizen scientists and professionals to make credible AIS reports in coordination with the Minnesota DNR, allowing agency staff to more efficiently focus on verifying new infestations. Participants will undergo training to ensure their ability to properly identify suspected AIS. AIS Detectors will not make definitive conclusions or announcements – instead, their role will be to determine if a report to the Minnesota DNR is necessary by screening out false-positive samples from being reported. The program will focus on species that the MAISRC interagency technical committee determined to be priorities for the state or for the region in which the training is provided, including bighead carp, silver carp, ruffe, round goby, spiny waterflea, zebra mussels, quagga mussels, starry stonewort, Eurasian watermilfoil, and hydrilla.

This will be complemented by the AIS Trackers program, led by Megan Weber. This program will train participants to monitor changes in populations of AIS over time in  response to treatment efforts. AIS Trackers will input data into an interactive AIS database, which will be accessible to MAISRC researchers,Minnesota DNR, and participating AIS managers, enabling greater capacity for surveillance, monitoring, response, and management.

Online, classroom, and field curricula will be developed for both programs. The extension educators will be responsible for planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating the programs.

Project start date: 2015

Estimated project end date: 2019

Progress:

The online and classroom components of the AIS Detectors program have been developed and reviewed by MAISRC scientists and DNR specialists. A pilot in-person class was conducted with citizens in Brainerd in fall of 2016, and thirteen new AIS Detectors were certified. Feedback on the program was received and revisions are being made in preparation for a statewide launch in spring 2017. The AIS Trackers program is under development for expected piloting in late 2017. 

Updates:

First class of AIS Detectors certified (MAISRC newsletter)

University of Minnesota certifies first class of AIS Detectors (MAISRC in the news)

MAISRC welcomes Megan Weber as new Extension Educator (MAISRC newsletter)

New aquatic invasive species Extension program coming soon! (MAISRC newsletter)

Now hiring: AIS Extension Educator (MAISRC newsletter)

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Estimating overland transport frequencies of invasive zebra mussels

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Michael McCartney

Description: Zebra mussel invasions of inland lakes in Minnesota are on the rise. In order to develop prevention and control methods, it’s crucial to understand the pathways and mechanisms that are enabling this spread. One suspected source of human-assisted zebra mussel transport is through residual water in recreational boats. The lack of data around this concern (to support it or to rule it out) has led to challenges related to statewide inspection practices and even recreational boat design.

Therefore, the goals of this study are to:

  1. Estimate the relative contributions of different surfaces and compartments on and in recreational boats and trailers to the transport of zebra mussels and their larvae (veligers), focused on measurements of the concentrations of veligers in residual water across a full range of vessel types in Minnesota.

  2. Identify “high-risk” vessel types and “high-risk” areas of watercraft that are likely to transport large volumes of residual water, and evaluate where boat redesign can be targeted to most effectively reduce residual water volumes.

  3. Develop a refined model to assess the risk for residual waters to transport – and thereby spread – live veligers within the state.

This study will partner with the DNR’s watercraft inspection program to collect data on presence and location of adult zebra mussels on seven different watercraft types leaving two popular zebra mussel infested lakes in Minnesota. In addition, a subset of the boats inspected will have residual water – that which is left in a boat after a user has attempted to fully drain it – sampled from various compartments of the watercraft, including live wells and bait wells, bilge areas, ballast tanks (if present), motors and any other location that may potentially transport a zebra mussel. The water will be analyzed for the presence of veligers. Additionally, lab tests and field experiments will determine the ability of veligers to survive in some of these high-risk compartments.

Project start date: 2015

Estimated project end date: 2017

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Eco-epidemiological model to assess aquatic invasive species management

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Nick Phelps

Description:

MAISRC researchers are working to develop a first-of-its-kind eco-epidemiological model that will forecast the potential risk of spread of zebra mussels, Heterosporis, and Eurasian watermilfoil across Minnesota. The model will take into account introduction probability, establishment probability, and levels of management interventions. This model will be used as a decision-making tool to generate effective intervention strategies and design cost-effective surveillance programs to mitigate and prevent the spread of AIS.

To establish introduction probability, pathways among lakes will be evaluated based on water connectivity, boater movement, and geographic proximity. To understand the establishment probability, researchers will use next-generation ecological niche modeling techniques with remote sensing data. Cumulatively, this will identify lakes or areas of the state that are at higher risk for AIS, including lakes that are highly vulnerable and lakes that may be “super-spreaders,” both of which will help prioritize management efforts.   

Project start date: 2016

Estimated project end date: 2018

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Developing solutions to address weaknesses in Lock and Dam #4 and then optimize its gate operation

Project Manager:
Description:

Project manager: Peter Sorensen

Description: This project seeks to identify potential weaknesses in Lock and Dam #4 (near Kellogg, MN) where invasive carp might be able to swim through and then optimize gate operations to prevent passage. This lock and dam system maintains a high velocity than other dams, is situated far from the invasion front, and is located just upstream of Lock & Dam #5, so the two systems can be used in conjunction. The project will include developing a 3D statistical model to calculate water velocities in and around the dam under a variety of conditions; measuring velocities near the dam to validate the model; developing and implementing a computation tool to search through the 3D velocity fields to identify specific swimming pathways that carp could take; and pairing this information with already-known swimming performance data to determine how best to block carp passage while having minimal effect on native fishes. Results will be used in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as they develop new gate operation plans.

Project start date: 2017

Estimated project end date: 2018

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