Understanding sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes prior to broad implementation of sea lamprey control

Journal of Great Lakes Research
By: , and 



Control of invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes with a selective pesticide (lampricide) that targeted larval sea lamprey began in the late 1950's and continues to be one of the main methods for control. Although the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which was formed with the mandate of controlling sea lamprey, often expresses the success of the sea lamprey control program in terms of percent reduction from lake-wide pre-lampricide control adult sea lamprey abundances, there remains a large amount of uncertainty surrounding these estimates. In this study, we gathered historical data on adult sea lamprey captures from trapping efforts from the mid-1950's through the late 1970's to better understand pre-control abundance. We used this information to estimate lake-wide population abundances of adult sea lamprey using a weighted linear regression that includes environmental and lampricide treatment predictor variables. We varied trapping efficiency for early trapping data to evaluate the uncertainty in abundance estimates. Pre-control adult sea lamprey abundances in all lakes were much greater than current population sizes, but estimates were quite sensitive to trapping efficiency. In Lake Superior, declines in abundance aligned with increases in control efforts, but in other lakes, declines were occurring prior to the onset of lampricide application, perhaps because of a loss of prey. We suggest that previous estimates of pre-control adult sea lamprey abundance may have been underestimated unless trapping efficiency was greater than what is currently achieved in the basin.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Understanding sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes prior to broad implementation of sea lamprey control
Series title Journal of Great Lakes Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2021.04.002
Volume 47
Issue Suppl 1
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page S328
Last page S334
Country Canada, United States
Other Geospatial Great Lakes
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