Invasive species gang up on native crayfish

Capital News Service
LANSING — Invasive species in the Great Lakes are ganging up against native species. A new study looking into invasive zebra and quagga mussels’ relationship with invasive rusty crayfish illustrates how the harm they cause together can be greater than either of them alone. “What we found was that these invasive crayfish are really good at exploiting the resources provided by the (invasive) mussels,” said Mael Glon, who worked on this research while pursuing a master’s degree at Central Michigan University. “I don’t just mean eating them, because they are eating them, but they’re also eating what grows from what’s filtered from the mussels.”
The study was a collaboration between Central Michigan University (CMU) and Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. It tested how the presence of the invasive mussels affected the growth and activity of both the invasive rusty crayfish and the native virile crayfish.

Hobbyists not getting “do not release” message

Capital News Service

LANSING — A 12-year-old federal program designed to educate aquarium and water garden hobbyists about the risks of invasive aquatic species is falling short in the Great Lakes region, according to a recent study. Hobbyists’ behavior is of concern because of the danger of intentionally or accidentally spreading an invader. For example, hobbyists may “transport aquatic hitchhikers that could provide a risk of invasion,” the study said. “Aquatic plants and animals introduced through channels of trade pose a significant threat to Michigan waters,” the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported last year. “Invasive organisms available through trade can reach Michigan’s waterways via a number of pathways, including intentional release of pets or plants purchased via retail outlets and escape from private ponds and water gardens during floods or other disturbances.”
The new study examined hobbyists’ awareness of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Habitattitude campaign launched in 2004 in partnership with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Converting invasive plants to power plants

Capital News Service
LANSING — Researchers working in wetlands in Michigan have a new approach to invasive plants. Instead of removing plants like phragmites and switchgrass, they harvest them. These plants are a threat to biodiversity, they say, but invasive plants can benefit farmers and even power homes. Scientists are working in the middle of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge which has 10,000 acres of marshes, bogs, forest and farmland. Everywhere you look, there’s a hawk or a herring.

Drones may fight invasive species–with cameras

Capital News Service

LANSING — Invasive plants can grow so thick and tall they hide the world’s greatest Lakes. “In the lower part of the state it’s pretty bad,” said Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, a research scientist with Michigan Technological University. “We were doing work in Saginaw Bay, and there are kids who live there and they don’t even know there’s water there because the weeds are so tall. “So they’re unable to take advantage of the fact that they live next to a Great Lake.”
Help is on the way. Bourgeau-Chavez maps wetlands and monitors them in the field.

Invasives will be caught on screen for all to see

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan researchers are building a time machine to fight freshwater invasive species. The project will let them navigate through a 150-year historical collection of plants and animals largely hidden among the storerooms of Great Lakes museums.
A $2.5 million federal grant will help move their collections from cupboards and shelves to a computer database through a process called digitization. Plant and animal specimens will be labeled and photographed for online access. A cooperative of 28 Great Lakes universities, including 11 in Michigan, will bypass the need for research staff to spend hours in a collection room pulling samples of North American fish, plants and mollusks. The project will allow online access to more than 1.7 million specimens, including 2,500 species, said Ken Cameron, who is leading the project and is director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium.