Eurasian Ruffe DNA Found in Lake Michigan

The Nature Conservancy has reported that eDNA of Eurasian Ruffe has been found in Calumet Harbor.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Genetic evidence of Eurasian ruffe, an invasive species in the perch family, has been found for the first time in southern Lake Michigan, a conservation group said Tuesday.

The Nature Conservancy said a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame, Central Michigan University and its own organization found evidence of DNA of Eurasian ruffe in Calumet Harbor, south of Chicago.

Two positive samples from the harbor were collected on July 8. The harbor is at the mouth of the Chicago-area waterway system. Environmental DNA is a surveillance tool that can be used to monitor the genetic presence of aquatic species.

The waterway system is part of an engineered canal that provides an artificial link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin and has been infiltrated with invasive Asian carp from the Mississippi for years.

That same system has the potential to introduce Eurasian ruffe in the Mississippi, according to the Nature Conservancy. The group said the genetic findings underscore the need for a permanent barrier to block species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi systems.

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Eurasian ruffe, like Asian carp and other invasive species, compete with native aquatic life and pose a threat to the ecology of our waterways. This finding is an important reminder that the threat of invasive species is a multi-directional problem that requires a two-way physical barrier. As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study is poised to be released in January, it is important that we acknowledge the need for immediate action. It will take federal, regional, and local collaboration to lead hydroseparation and protect the Great Lakes and our waterways throughout the basin. from invasive species.

Posted December 4, 2013