Tests conducted this fall have not shown the presence of environmental DNA (eDNA) for either bighead or silver carp in Michigan waters, according to results received by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment earlier this month.
From Sept. 15 to Oct. 5, 2010, researchers from the University of Notre Dame and The Nature Conservancy collected 74 water samples from the Galien River and 122 samples from the St. Joseph and Paw Paw rivers, all located in southwest Michigan. All samples were negative for bighead and silver carp DNA.
Environmental DNA is a genetics tool developed by Notre Dame and The Nature Conservancy to indicate the presence or absence of species-specific DNA in an aquatic environment. Fish can release cells containing DNA in their mucus, feces and urine.
“This is great news for Michigan, but by no means should we relax our stance on Asian carp and the threat they pose to the Great Lakes Basin,” said Office of the Great Lakes Director Patricia Birkholz. “An ecological separation of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes remains imperative to our goal of keeping this invasive species out of Michigan waters.”
Notre Dame plans to collect approximately 400 samples from Michigan waters in 2011 from the Grand, Pere Marquette, Raisin, Belle and Black rivers, though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the DNRE will have input into the final sampling plan, said DNRE Fisheries Chief Kelley Smith.
“It is encouraging that there are no signs of Asian carp in the eDNA results, but we must continue to be vigilant in our own monitoring efforts,” Smith said. “We are encouraging anglers to learn more about Asian carp, especially juvenile Asian carp, which can look a lot like many species of minnows commonly used as bait by Michigan anglers.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, through a cooperative agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is funding Notre Dame’s surveillance effort for three years. The eDNA approach will be used to screen rivers throughout the Great Lakes Basin for Asian carp and other invasive species, such as Black carp and northern snakehead.
For more information on Asian carp and Michigan’s efforts to stop their spread in the Great Lakes, go to www.michigan.gov/asiancarp.
Source: News release from Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Environment