April 2021 Newsletter


Letter from the Director

One year ago, we were contingency planning with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of us. We looked at every project, every process and every detail, and for the most part, were successful at safely delivering on our research commitments, albeit socially distant and wearing masks! The virtual world did not slow down the Minnesota legislature either. Over the last few months, they have debated environmental funding priorities for the FY 2022-2023 biennium. Hear more from Nick >


Rapid response project to test zebra mussels found in moss balls

We are excited to announce a rapid response project in partnership with the University of Minnesota Genomics Center to conduct genetic testing on the zebra mussels that were inadvertently distributed within aquarium moss balls and sold at pet stores across the U.S. and Canada—including in Minnesota. MAISRC Director and Research Fellow, Dr. Nicholas Phelps will be leading the project. Learn more about the project >


Genotyping hybrid watermilfoil 

The crossing of non-native Eurasian watermilfoil and native northern watermilfoil results in 'hybrid watermilfoil,' which is more invasive and can be more difficult to treat. If you manage or live on a lake with hybrid watermilfoil, genetic testing of the local population can help inform treatments and contribute to MAISRC research into this high-impact species. MAISRC is supporting information-sharing across stakeholder groups engaged in hybrid milfoil management and can provide technical support in sampling methods and low-cost genotyping. Learn more about genotyping for your lake >


Detector Connector

The Detector Connector is a monthly social gathering hosted by the AIS Detectors team. Each month, the team announces a theme for folks to discuss. Previous discussion topics have included broad ideas like AIS monitoring and focused discussions around specific AIS, like zebra mussels. Detector Connectors are held virtually, so participants can join the discussion from all across Minnesota and beyond! (p.s. the AIS Detectors Certification registration is now open!) Learn more about the events > 




  • Fishing opener for walleye, bass, northern pike, and lake trout is Saturday, May 15, 2021. Help us stop the spread of spiny water fleas by remembering to drain all water when leaving an infested lake and wiping your fishing lines, reels, bait buckets, and livewells. Learn more by visiting our Stop Spiny website

  • Lake lovers of any education level are encouraged to register for the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Detectors certification that is fully online for the first time this year. The certification is an introduction to aquatic invasive species science, identification, and surveillance. Participants learn how to report invasive species to government officials, best practices for preventing the spread of AIS, relevant rules and regulations, and how to search for AIS on their own. Register today!



Recent publications

Recreationist willingness to pay for aquatic invasive species managementPLoS One. (Levers, Pradhananga)
A key finding: Researchers estimated a mean willingness to pay of about nine to ten dollars per day, which did not differ significantly by lake. Additionally, perceived risk, awareness of problem, and visit motivation were significant in predicting willingness to pay, which could have important ramifications for aquatic invasive species management.


Host Range of Carp Edema Virus (CEV) during a Natural Mortality Event in a Minnesota Lake and Update of CEV Associated Mortality Events in the USA.  Viruses(Tolo, Padhi, Hundt, Bajer, Mor, Phelps)
A key finding: This study provides evidence that CEV infection and disease may be specific to carp during mortality events with mixed-species populations.


Detection of pathogens and non-target species in the baitfish supply chain.  Management of Biological Invasions(McEachran, Mor, Phelps)
A key finding: This study underscores the need for a proactive surveillance approach that includes advanced diagnostic tools for the detection of emerging aquatic pathogens, to better understand and manage the risks associated with the use of live baitfish.


Trophic complexity of small fish in nearshore food webs.  Hydrobiologia(Wellard Kelly, Kovalenko, Ahrenstorff, Bethke, Brady, Dumke, Hansen, Rantala)
A key finding: Overall fish niche space was weakly but significantly related to niche space of their invertebrate prey. Although nearshore benthic resources contributed to fish diets in all lakes, all fish species also had non-negligible and variable contributions from pelagic zooplankton.


Hybrid watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum 3 Myriophyllum sibiricum) exhibits traits associated with greater invasiveness than its introduced and native parental taxa.  Biological Invasions(Glisson, Larkin)
A key finding: This study provides field-based evidence of increased invasiveness associated with hybridization between Eurasian watermilfoil and northern watermilfoil; specifically, greater reproductive potential via flowering and greater surface cover may increase hybrid watermilfoil spread, have greater impacts on native species, and pose more of a nuisance to lake users.