Early Detection & Monitoring
In 2012, the LGLFWCO started an Early Detection and Monitoring (EDM) program under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). This is a basin-wide program involving many different USFWS offices. The LGLFWCO monitors Lake Ontario and works closely with the Alpena FWCO in monitoring Lake Erie. This program uses various methods to look for any new potential invasive species. The program focuses primarily on invasive fish and benthic macroinvertebrate species. Sampling occurs in Maumee and Sandusky Bays in OH, Buffalo NY, the Niagara River, and Rochester NY. Sampling locations are picked based on the likelihood of introduction of a new invasive species. That likelihood can be determined by looking at vectors of introduction such as ballast water discharge and recreational usage.
How do we do it?
Fish biologists look in areas where a new invasive may appear for the first time. Invasive species are rare when first introduced into a new location. Biologists work to catch as many species as possible to be able to identify a new invasive species when the population is small. Early Detection sampling targets adult, juvenile, and larval fish, as well benthic invertebrates.
Fish biologists use multiple types of gear to collect adult fish. The goal is to detect a diversity of species, so gear types that target different habitats or behaviors are essential. Gears utilized for adult and juvenile fish sampling are bottom trawls, day and night electrofishing, paired fyke nets, and experimental gill nets.
Sometimes it is extremely difficult to detect an adult of a species. In this case, looking for evidence that they are spawning (reproducing) will tell us if they are present. Ichthyoplankton are most abundant in the water in the spring and early summer. At those times we use bongo nets, light traps, and larval fish seines to collect ichthyoplankton.