June 2019 newsletter

Letter from the Director 

Hello from MAISRC! nick phelps

After a busy legislative session and because of your support, I am pleased to report that MAISRC’s funding requests fared well. MAISRC was included in the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund bill for $4 million over four years. Additionally, through the Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Finance Bill, MAISRC will receive $510,000/year for two years. $100,000 in the first year will be allocated to develop a new AIS early detection system.

We are very grateful for both of these avenues of support, and would like to express special thanks to: the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, which makes recommendations for the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund; and the House and Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committees and committee leadership who designated funding for AIS research during this legislative session.

Huge thanks to all of you who contacted your legislators to express support for AIS research. It’s so encouraging to see the bipartisan interest in addressing AIS problems and the value placed on finding science-based solutions.

And one last very special group of people to thank: the MAISRC researchers who are out every day, working long hours this field season to solve our AIS problems. Your dedication, diligence, and passion to this work is inspiring. Your commitment – along with our enthusiastic AIS Detectors – is making a real difference in the fight against AIS. We couldn’t do it without you!

nick signature

Time to get back to the lab...

Common carp research featured in New York Times

What do fish cannons, Koi Herpes, and bluegills have in common? They’re all control measures being used by MAISRC researchers to control common carp, one of the oldest and most invasive fish on the planet. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for controlling these voracious eaters, MAISRC researchers have developed a mix of tactics that are proving successful. Learn all about these “Rube-Goldberg-esque” tactics in the New York Times.

MAISRC launches graduate research fellowship in zebra mussel control

The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center is pleased to announce the 2019 recipient of the new zebra mussel graduate research fellowship: Angelique Dahlberg! This fellowship was made possible with support from the Fletcher Family Foundation, Pelican Lakes Association of Crow Wing County, and Bay Lake Improvement Association.

Dahlberg is working toward her PhD in Conservation Sciences and will be partnering with Jim Luoma and the U.S. Geological Survey to research methods to suppress zebra mussel populations using copper in Minnesota lakes. The project will also evaluate the impacts of copper on nontarget species, such as native zooplankton, benthic invertebrates, fish, and mussels. Learn more about this project here

Prior to joining MAISRC, Dahlberg received an M.S. in Integrated BioSciences from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a B.S. in Biological Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She spent five years working for regional nonprofits to manage and mitigate the impacts of invasive species and has also served as Chair of the Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council.

Research efforts for the prevention, detection, and control of zebra mussels remain high priorities for MAISRC and the focus of several ongoing projects. Lab trials and smaller-scale field work have shown promise with using copper treatments to control zebra mussels. Learn about all of our zebra mussel research on our website.

How long have they been in the lake?

New research from MAISRC is shedding light on the invasion history of spiny waterflea in Minnesota lakes. Results from a two-year study on Lake Mille Lacs and Lake Kabetogama are showing that spiny waterflea were present in the lakes for decades before they were detected in the water column.

Researchers used dated lake-sediment cores to reconstruct long-term ecological histories. Thanks to their namesake spine, spiny waterflea are very well-preserved in lake sediment. This allows researchers to study food web dynamics, when they were first present, their population growth trajectories, and their impacts on prey.

Cores from both lakes provide evidence that spiny waterflea were in the lakes as early as the 1970s. Their presence was reported in Lake Mille Lacs in 2009 and Lake Kabetogama in 2007.

Knowing that spiny waterflea can exist and persist in a lake for several years before the population is large enough to be detected emphasizes the importance of cleaning and sanitizing all watercraft to prevent the spread of AIS – even if no invasive species have been found in the water body. (A separate MAISRC research project is evaluating the highest-risk types of equipment for spiny waterflea spread in order to prioritize cleaning efforts.)

This research also helps give managers a clearer understanding of the magnitude of the problem posed by spiny waterflea and helps define threats to sport fishing, water quality, and the overall food web. Spiny waterflea is an invasive zooplankton that devastates the food webs of invaded lakes by consuming large numbers of native zooplankton. There are currently 66 waterbodies infested with spiny waterflea, per the Minnesota DNR. Learn more about this research on our website.

Another class of AIS Detectors certified!

Everyone at MAISRC congratulates the 83 new AIS Detectors who were certified this year. This brings our total of AIS Detectors to 299 around the state. To become certified, participants learn the principles of aquatic ecology, AIS identification, Minnesota rules and regulations, preventing the spread of AIS, and more. They are then equipped to volunteer around the state and make a difference in the areas of citizen science, outreach and education, stewardship, and research support. If you missed out this year, workshops will be held again in the spring of 2020.

Whether you’re an AIS Detector or not, MAISRC has opportunities to help you get involved this summer:

  • Attend a plant identification workshop on July 25 in Sauk Rapids. MAISRC is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and University of Minnesota Extension to bring this fun, hands-on workshop to you. Join us in a room filled with live aquatic plants gathered from across the state with experts guiding you through how to identify all of them. This workshop is open for anyone from beginners to experts. Registration is now open!

  • Participate in Starry Trek on August 17. Join MAISRC for this free, family-friendly, statewide search for starry stonewort (and other invaders). You will meet at a local training site hosted by one of our local partners where you will receive a brief training on how to identify starry stonewort and other target aquatic invasive species and how to follow the search protocols. Groups are then sent out to local lakes to follow the protocols and bring back any suspicious organisms. No experience required! Registration is now open!
  • Attend the AIS Research and Management Showcase. Save the date! MAISRC’s sixth annual AIS Research and Management Showcase will be held in St. Paul on Wednesday, Sept. 18. This is your best opportunity to hear from our researchers, see the lab, and network with others interested in AIS issues. Registration will open in July!

Support MAISRC with a gift today

Our researchers are working diligently all across the state to address the AIS issues that are threatening Minnesota’s waters. Help us do this critical work with a gift today -- private contributions to MAISRC make a real difference and provide us with the flexibility to meet critical needs as they arise. Thank you!