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Force of 3 to Cooperate on ANS, Food Web, and Fisheries Issues

The Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission have joined forces to address the impact of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) on the Great Lakes food web and on sport and commercial fisheries. The partnership will enable the groups to prioritize funding and coordinate research. The approach should enhance the effectiveness of research projects and potentially increase research opportunities.

"This partnership is a critical step in our efforts to understand how non-native species are currently disrupting food webs and what these food webs are likely to look like in the future," said Bernie Hansen, chair of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

The partnership will focus on four non-native invertebrates: zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), quagga mussels (D. bugensis), spiny waterfleas (Bythotrephes cederstroemi), and fishhook waterfleas (Cercopagis pengoi). These species have invaded the Great Lakes over the past 17 years and are expected to have increasingly severe impacts.

"Merging the strengths of these three Great Lakes organizations creates an excellent framework from which to study the consequences of having ANS in the Great Lakes," said Doug Jensen, Exotic Species Information Center coordinator for Minnesota Sea Grant.

"For instance, dramatic declines in the diporeia populations of Lakes Michigan and Huron seem to coincide with zebra mussel infestations but we are still trying to understand the relationship and what these population changes mean to the food web." Diporeia, shrimp-like crustacea, are an important food for juvenile lake trout, whitefish, and other forage fish.

Great Lakes Fishery Trustees represent Michigan, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the National Wildlife Federation, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network is composed of Sea Grant programs in Illinois-Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is a Canadian and U.S. government entity formed to control sea lamprey, coordinate fishery management, and conduct research.

By Sea Grant Staff
March 2002

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