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This morning I would like to share some
information and get people up to date on some new introductions and range
expansions of those already here.
We have some records that go back to the
late 1800s. Most of which are stockings
of all kinds of fish by the US Fish Commission as food fish. We attempt to georeference the records to
the smallest possible scale such as a point if we are lucky to get that kind
of accuracy. The next level we use is a
Hydrologic Unit based on an 8 digit code.
Here you can see the US broken into these units. Up close this is what Michigan looks like
broken into these Hydrologic Units. Over the last few years we have added
about 30 new species most of which are marine and we have a lot more to add I
believe based on the number of survey that are being conducted by various
groups of scientists. In all, we have
recorded approximately 1100 aquatic species.
Here is how it breaks down by taxa. Most
are freshwater, but we are collecting more marine records. The majority of these records come from 3
sources which are scientific literature, museum specimens, and personal communications
with scientists and biologists, etc.
Our database documents single occurrences, they do not have to
represent established populations. Many
of the species are native to North America, but have transferred to non-native
What has the zebra mussel been up to
over the last few years? The first live
mussel was collected by an Energy Corporation on a intake traveling screen, very
close to where barge traffic flows. The
Minnesota DNR reported zms from Lake Zumbro, still the only lake in Minnesota
with zms. In PA there are 3 lakes in the NW corner of the state (Edinboro
which did a winter drawdown that was not very successful, Sandy Lake,
Canadohta Lake, Dutch Springs Reservoir (east) which may have had both zebras
and quaggas). In VA a recreational
diver who happened to be a NOAA employee discovered the zms in Millbrook
Quarry, not too far from Washington DC. The quarry is near a large reservoir
used as a city’s water supply. The Corps of Engineers reported last week a new
infestation in Oolagah Lake on the upper Verdigris River in Oklahoma. The yellow stars on the map represent the
overland transport of boats found to have zebra mussels on their hulls. In small lakes not including impoundments on
large infested rivers, zebra mussels continue to spread. I have compiled a list of at least 336 lake
where zms have been detected but not necessarily become established.
Here is the breakdown by states. The number in parentheses is the number of counties. As you can see Michigan lead by far, but
they have a volunteer monitoring program that is finding most of these lakes.
I am not aware of similar program in the other states. In states like New York and Ohio it appears
that the zms are more widespread. That’s just over 1 lake per county. Not true for Michigan, Indiana, and
Wisconsin. They are multiple lakes per county,
but then these states probably have a higher concentration of lakes per
In the end the fact remains that
Michigan still has or had 183 lakes with zebra mussels.
Cumulatively over time you can see how the
number of lakes add up for each state.
Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin have taken the biggest leaps over the
last several years.
The quagga mussel is still in the 4 lowest lakes and now in one of the Finger Lakes
of New York (Seneca).
We can’t forget our old friend the Asian
clam. This small bivalve is still spreading across the US. I don’t know what
it’s doing in Canada but would like to find out. Not very much research on the impacts of
this species. Based on how widespread
and numerous it is, there should be.
Last month I was contacted by a homeowner in Grand Junction thinking
she had zebra mussels. She sent me a
sample and they turned out to be Corbicula. She was concerned because whatever
she had was clogging the irrigation pipes in her subdivision. After a few
phone calls I discovered that their indeed was a healthy population in the
Colorado River in Grand Junction.
This is the green mussel, Perna viridis,
a tropical marine species. However, these
were spotted in Minnesota believe it or not. They were spotted by inspectors
on a large tug-like boat who were looking for zebra mussels. The Minnesota DNR suspected what they might
be so they sent me a picture. I identified
them as green mussels based on the photo and also knowing that the boat had
been in Florida. Although they would not have survived in North Dakota, this
is still a good example of how organisms can get spread overland. This could
someday be zebra mussel going in the opposite direction.
Another mollusks, this time an aquatic
snail is making a big splash out west. After the initial find in the Grand
Canyon in 2002, a subsequent survey found them throughout most of the Grand
Canyon. Although the snails were identified
in California in 2001, older samples from as far back as 1997 where found to
have them but had been misidentified initially as a native snail. Researchers
at Montana State University seem to be finding this snail nearly everywhere. They have reported densities as high as
750,000/m2. Changes since the mudsnails
arrival include a decrease in algae biomass and decrease in caddis flies and
mayflies with an increase in amphipods in one measured site. There are native
snails in the region that most likely will be impacted to some degree by the
The US Fish and Wildlife Service Caught
the first ruffe from Lake Michigan in the Fall of 2002. After the first and only ruffe was collected
from Escanaba Harbor. A survey a few weeks later caught 2 more ruffe from the
same area. Just three fish were
collected, 146, 151, and 83 mm.
The round goby. Here is list of some of the more recent
observations that I have included. I
don’t believe they have expanded their range beyond this boundary, but more
are filling in gaps between known established populations.
The bighead carp imported into Arkansas
in 1972 and shipped to Auburn, Alabama and began showing up in the wild in
The silver carp also imported into Arkansas by a private
farmer first showed up in Arkansas in about 1973.
Both brought in to
contain phytoplankton in eutrophic catfish culture ponds. As you can see they
are found in similar areas.
Four bighead carp have been taken from
Lake Erie already. In close proximity to
the upper Great Lakes are the bighead that have been collected in the Illinois
River. The fish in the photo is from
Sandusky Bay in 2000.
The Great Lakes region should also be
concerned with the silver carp as it is also poised to enter Lake Michigan up
the Illinois River. None have been collected
from the Great Lakes as far as I know.
There are several ways of distinguishing
the bighead and silver carps. The first is the gills. You can see how
different the upper portion is. The
bighead has a much wider head and you can see the eyes from below. The silver
carp has a keel which runs from the pectoral fin to the anal fin, the bighead
only has it from the pelvic fin back to the anal fin. And on the bighead, the
gill cover is larger giving it the appearance of a larger head.
This the black carp. It was caught in the wild for the first time
back in March of this year by commercial fishermen. Horseshoe Lake is in Illinois adjacent to the
Mississippi River. The good news is
that the fish tested out to be a triploid, in other words, sterile. The black
carp is a native of eastern Asia. It eats snails and clams and was introduced
for that reason – as a biocontrol of a snail that is the intermediate host of
a catfish parasite. In 1994, about 30
of them escaped a fish farm when a dyke was breached by flood waters. None
were ever recaptured.
Hundreds of small snakeheads were
collected from the release of two fish in the now famous Maryland pond.
Argus collected but not established in CA FL MA MD NC
Maculata collected one in Massachusetts, but mostly on Oahu, Hawaii
Marulius established in Florida
Micropeltes collected from several New England states
Striata in aquarium industry in Hawaii
This whole family was recently banned from importation.
The tench has been around a long time
without too much notice. It was stocked
in many places (38 states) more than a hundred years ago as a food fish. It is still established in a few states
apparently. I bring this fish to your attention
as it has recently turned up in the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain. It may compete with native cyprinids.
The lionfish was a real surprise to find
here in the Atlantic. It is native from
Australia to Japan to Micronesia and associated with reef areas. Because of the number of sightings it
appears to be established. It is
uncertain how they first arrived, but probably through aquarium
introductions. Too soon to document any
impacts. But they do have a venomous
Here we have some of the small crustacaceans from the Great Lakes
Bythotrephes – Lake Michigamme, Lake Monacle in Michigan
Tappan reservoirs in Ohio
La Cloche, Kawagama, Loimer, and Manitowabing
lakes in Ontario
Here are two more small crustaceans
found in the Great Lakes region.
was been collected earlier this year from the Illinois River spanning 4 counties.
It is a marine species native to our Western
There have been
numerous crayfish species introduced around
the country. Usually from bait bucket or aquacultures escapes.
In this case it was stock contamination with
Maine exotics – Orconectes
obscurus, O. rusticus, Procambaus acutus, P. clarkii. About 15 species of
crayfish have been documented to be found outside their natural range in the
This is a new animal I just learned
about, the carp louse. It parasitizes
fish primarily. This group is found
worldwide with 23 freshwater and marine species in US waters. However this
species is native to SE Asia. It has
been spread to other continents with shipments of goldfish. According to
William Poly at the California Academy of Sciences, it has been found in these
states. In Africa, they are parasitizing rainbow trout in culture facilities.
The Asian shore crab has been with since at least 1988 but probably
The native crab is Panopeus herbstii in Delaware Bay (Charles Epifanio et al. 2003).
The Chinese mitten crab has not
significantly expanded its range over the last few years. The Port of Ilwaco, Washington is on the
The green crab on the East Coast is
reported to have moved from the Atlantic side to the Gulf of St. Lawrence side
of Nova Scotia in 1998. And then in 1999, the green crab was collected off
Vancouver Island in BC.
A jump from Washington
So on the East Coast the crab is
from Maryland to Nova Scotia and from Califonia to BC on the West Coast.
Canadian records – Jim Morrison, Fisheries and Oceans
This is a freshwater jellyfish native to
China. I found that it has been
collected in Canada in Quebec. It’s
found in a wide range of habitats but most common in slow-moving or stagnant
waterbodies. It reproduces asexually
when the water is warmest at the end of the summer. Most likely it was imported with ornamental
aquatic plants. It was first observed
in the US in Benson Creek near Frankfort Kentucky in 1916. The first collection near the Great Lakes
was in the Huron River near Ann Arbor in 1933.
They will consume fish eggs and in turn are preyed upon by
crayfish. Still being found in new
lakes similarly like the zebra mussel has been.
The animals I have just shown are sample
of what we have compiled in our database with lots of help.
I want to thanks all my contributors and cooperators.
These are some of the main players.
There are many others, and you know who you
This is the Nile monitor, related to the famous Komodo dragons, can grow up to
2.5 meters. A population has been observed in Cape Coral, FL.
I know that there are many gaps in our
data as we try to document the whereabouts of everything aquatic. So if you know of species out of their range
and would like to contribute that information so that I can continue to compile
distribution information, please get in touch with me. Thank you.