MAISRC in the News

University Of Minnesota Extension Starry Trek: Explore Local Lakes And Help Find Aquatic Invasive Species On August 21

August 5, 2021

Looking for a fun opportunity to get outside, explore local lakes, and be a part of the solution to aquatic invasive species problems this summer? Starry Trek is the event for you! Starry Trek is an annual event hosted by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and University of Minnesota Extension in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This event takes aim at searching for new populations of starry stonewort, invasive algae first discovered in Minnesota in 2015.

What to expect at Starry Trek

No experience is necessary to participate in Starry Trek and this is a free, family-friendly event. On the morning of August 21st, you'll arrive at the local training site you registered for. There you will be greeted by your local coordinator from one of our many local partners that make this event happen. You'll sign in to the event and receive a brief, on-site training.

Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center launches spiny water flea campaign

August 2, 2021

The spiny water flea, a small opaque zooplankton that is becoming a threat to Minnesota waters, is the subject of a new campaign by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

This invasive species disrupts the natural food chain by devouring the micronutrients that sustain and grow native fish species, yet offer no nutritional value themselves. Once established in a lake there is no treatment, chemical or otherwise, that will eradicate them, a release said.

As a result, the MAISRC has launched a campaign called Stop Spiny, which is aimed at educating Minnesotans about spiny water fleas, their spread and how to stop them.

Bruce Anspach, a Beltrami County aquatic invasive species lakes technician, is supporting the campaign and looking to educate those in Beltrami County about it.


Tracking AIS through DNA

July 30, 2021

REGIONAL— Researchers from the Natural Resources Research Institute were on Lake Vermilion this week as they work to refine a high-tech testing method that could eventually make the hunt for aquatic invasive species, or AIS, far more efficient and effective. They’re getting logistical help with the project from the Vermilion Lake Association, which has long played a major role in heading off AIS on the lake.
“Everything that lives in the lake releases some DNA,” said Josh Dumke, a senior research scientist at the NRRI, which is affiliated with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Whether plant or animal, tissue cells containing DNA are regularly sloughed off into the water, Dumke said, either through skin cells, mucous, or urine. That means, in theory, that water samples from a lake could eventually help researchers detect the presence of AIS far more effectively than current methods, particularly on large lakes like Vermilion.

Local volunteers needed to search for starry stonewort, other lake invasives

July 30, 2021

Starry Trek volunteers have found starry stonewort in several lakes, including Wolf Lake at the Hubbard-Beltrami county line and Lake Beltrami in Beltrami County.

Lake-loving volunteers are needed across Minnesota on Saturday, Aug. 21, to participate in a search for starry stonewort — an aggressive, aquatic invasive algae that spreads easily and grows into dense mats at and below the lake’s surface.

Starry Trek is an annual event where members of the public first gather at training sites to learn how to identify starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species. The newly trained citizen scientists then branch out to local water accesses to search for signs of the invasive species.

Scientists study the genetics of invasive mussels seeking ways to turn off the genes that allow them to spread and survive

July 30, 2021

In Lake Michigan, mussels face divers ready to scrape them off rocks, molluscicides pumped underwater capable of tearing apart their digestive systems, another invasive species hungry for their young and any number of death traps researchers dream up next.

Throughout the country, scientists are studying a range of control methods to uproot invasive mussels, hoping that — like the threads that glue the mollusks down — something eventually sticks.

Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund invests $8.75 million in invasive species research at the University of Minnesota

July 21, 2021

ST. PAUL, MINN. ---- The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) recently awarded the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Pests and Plants Center (MITPPC) $5 million over five years and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) $3.75 million over four years to conduct vital research that informs approaches to address invasive species across the state. 

MITPPC and MAISRC rely on biannual requests to the ENRTF to discover new technologies and strategies for invasive species management and early detection. Funding from ENRTF provides the centers with the ability to support multi-year research projects and dozens of researchers, graduate students, and post-doctoral associates with broad academic backgrounds, bringing fresh ideas and new perspectives to invasive species research.

The ENRTF is managed by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), which makes funding recommendations to the Minnesota state legislature for environment and natural resource projects. The ENRTF is funded by the Minnesota lottery, not taxpayers.

Arizona had slowed quagga mussel invasion, but a rise in boat sales could renew the threat

June 30, 2021

Skyrocketing boat sales have filled lakes across Arizona with millions of dollars’ worth of new watercraft, potentially renewing the threat from quagga mussels, an invasive aquatic species that still lurks in waterways across the West. The tiny mollusks wreak havoc in reservoirs and other facilities and often move from lake to lake by clinging to the hulls of boats. Though extreme heat across the Southwest is helping cull portions of the population, officials fear the influx of new boat owners could raise the risk of another infestation. The mussels have spent more than a decade infiltrating water systems in nearly half of the state’s largest reservoirs, including Lakes Powell, Mead, Mohave, Pleasant and Havasu. The mussels, which 

Golden Clam Discovery Triggers Rapid Response Monitoring Project

June 25, 2021

You're never too old or too young to help protect Minnesota's waters from aquatic invasive species. This past August, a new population of golden clams, Corbicula fluminea, was discovered by twelve-year-old budding conservationist, William Guthrie. The new infestation was found in Briggs Lake (Sherburne County) while the Guthrie family participated in Starry Trek, an annual event where volunteers from across the state search for starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species.

Golden clams have been found in Minnesota in the past, but mainly in rivers where power plants discharge their cooling water—therefore keeping the surrounding water warmer year-round. 

The discovery of golden clams in Briggs Lake is significant because it is an inland lake with no supplemental heat source. If the clams can survive our winter months, they could also spread and reproduce in additional lakes and rivers. Similar to zebra mussels, infestations of golden clams can clog water intake pipes and alter local ecosystems. 

2021 Starry Trek logistics underway

June 25, 2021

Starry Trek returns this August, as a new crew of volunteers will set out to explore new lakes, seek out new AIS, and to boldly go where no volunteer has gone before (ok, maybe not that last one). On Saturday, August 21st, volunteers will rendezvous at local training sites across the state to receive training on sampling and identifying aquatic plants and AIS before setting out to their assigned lakes to search for starry stonewort and other priority invaders. Since 2017, Starry Trek volunteers have found over 40 new occurrences of AIS in Minnesota, including four new populations of starry stonewort.  

Research in Action - James Johnson

June 25, 2021

For our second installment of our AIS Professional Q+A, we spoke with James Johnson, a UW-Madison and University of Minnesota alum and founder and lead scientist for Freshwater Scientific Services, LLC, a consultancy that specializes in aquatic plant surveys, lake management planning, and water quality studies. 

I grew up fishing and snorkeling with my dad on small lakes in Wisconsin and spent a lot of time on Madeline Island in Lake Superior, so I have many fond memories of being around big and small lakes. At the time I had no idea that a person could have a job working on lakes. When I started college at UW-Madison, I wanted to be an engineer, but I soon realized that although I loved the problem-solving and technical aspects of engineering, my real love was biology and working outdoors. So I switched my major to Zoology and Conservation. Being at a great lake school like Madison, I got a lot of exposure to fisheries, limnology, and marine biology courses and I just fell in love with this line of work.