MAISRC in the News

This ferocious water flea is mauling the Great Lakes

December 2, 2020

DULUTH, MINNESOTAOn a mild September morning on the aft deck of the research vessel Blue HeronDonn Branstrator sniffed the contents of a sampling bottle that some graduate students had just hauled up from the depths of Lake Superior. “That’s why fish smell the way they do,” said Branstrator, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. The fishy odor came from planktonic crustaceans just a few millimeters long, a primary food source for all the fish in the lake.

The most important are Daphnia—a genus that comprises some 100 freshwater species. These tiny animals are critical to lake health: Besides providing food for fish, they graze on floating algae, beating their legs constantly to create microcurrents that pull the algae toward their miniature maws. By keeping algae in check, Daphnia help keep the system in balance.

12-year-old discovers invasive clams in Minnesota lake

November 15, 2020

A budding young scientist made an unusual discovery in a Sherburne County lake last summer.

Twelve-year-old William Guthrie of Big Lake, Minn., was volunteering with his family to comb lakes for aquatic invaders when he discovered a golden clam — an invasive species not previously found in Minnesota lakes — in Briggs Lake, southeast of St. Cloud.

Experts with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed the discovery, said Megan Weber, an educator with the University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

Intensifying hurricanes are helping invasive species spread across the U.S.

October 27, 2020

With record-breaking intensity, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has surged past the average 12 named storms per year. When Hurricane Zeta made landfall in Mexico on October 26, it became the 27th named storm of the season and 11th named hurricane.

While hurricanes are notorious for producing tornados and causing widespread destruction, they have another devastating, yet lesser-known effect: Spreading invasive species to new habitats. (Here’s how hurricanes form—and why they’re so destructive.)

How a citizen-led group hopes to keep invasive species out of the Boundary Waters

October 22, 2020

For the past year, a network of public and private organizations in northern Minnesota has been meeting with the hopes of developing a management plan that would keep aquatic invasive species from infesting lakes that feed the renowned Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA).

Led by Minnesota Lakes & Rivers Advocates, the “working group” began meeting not long after the discovery of zebra mussel larvae in Lake of the Woods, the popular border lake west of the Boundary Waters. The Ely Area AIS Task Force and the U.S. Forest Service are among the organizations that have participated in the discussions.

Research using copper in Lake Minnetonka to eradicate zebra mussels shows promise

October 4, 2020

Invasive zebra mussels have been found in scores of lakes in Minnesota. Researchers applied a copper solution to one bay in Lake Minnetonka.

Research on the use of a copper-based pesticide to fight zebra mussels in Lake Minnetonka continued to show the treatment's effectiveness in the study's second year, University of Minnesota researchers have reported.

The copper solution, first applied in July 2019, dramatically decreased the population of zebra mussels — especially on veligers, their larval form — while leaving native fish mostly unharmed, said Angelique Dahlberg, a Ph.D. student and researcher at the U's Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. Dahlberg spoke Tuesday at the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference.

Success stories exist in the fight against invasive species

September 30, 2020

Zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil and other aquatic invasive species are so prevalent and damaging in Minnesota that a whole industry has sprung up around fighting them.

There's a whole research center at the University of Minnesota. Private industries help locate them and treat or remove them. Boat inspectors stand guard at entry points to vulnerable lakes. Billboards remind boaters to "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!"


Do invasives harm lake property values? Study takes a look.

September 24, 2020

Those who own lake property may sometimes wonder if an infestation of aquatic invasive species harms their property values.

Researchers at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center wonder also, and are examining hundreds of thousands of property transactions in Minnesota to determine the answer.


Jumping carp hate outboard motors

September 15, 2020

Invasive “jumping carp,” also known as bighead carp or Asian carp, are moving up the Mississippi River into Minnesota, with 50 of them caught at one time by a commercial fisherman this spring.

But researchers have discovered something that deters them: noise, researcher Nick Phelps said during this season’s fourth and final Water Talk hosted by the Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria.

Blame us, not ducks, for spreading spiny water fleas

August 29, 2020

Val Brady and Donn Branstrator, University of Minnesota Duluth scientists, were at a boat landing on Island Lake north of Duluth when one of Brady’s neighbors happened to show up to go fishing.

The conversation moved to what the scientists were doing that day, research on how invasive spiny water fleas can accumulate on anglers’ fishing gear, when the neighbor weighed in with his opinion.

Why bother, he said, everyone knows spiny water fleas are spread by ducks.


Starry Trek event set to help search for starry stonewort

July 27, 2020

BEMIDJI -- The community is invited to join the upcoming Starry Trek event hosted by Beltrami County Environmental Services AIS Program. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, starting at 2400 Middle School Ave. NW.

Starry Trek is a statewide event focused on searching for one of Minnesota's newest aquatic invasive species, starry stonewort, an algae that was first found in Minnesota at Lake Koronis in 2015. The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center has been working to find research-based solutions to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.